What does a collector look for when they consider purchasing a work of art? For art that is selling at a premium, it needs to be established as significant, relevant, well executed, in demand, of high critical acclaim, have a demonstrable price track record, and is therefore valuable. If a potential buyer of artwork likes the work and perceives it at a certain value, then there is a chance they may buy it. If they don’t understand the value then they usually won’t. This relates to the old adage that states, “perception dictates reality”. It is incumbent on you, the artist, to define a strategy that aligns the market level (gallery, show, festival, auction, event) with the perceived value (price) you choose for your artwork. For example if a million dollar work of art is placed in a poster gallery, most of us will underestimate the value because of the misalignment between the market and the perceived value of the artwork. This misalignment creates doubt because you just don’t expect to find a Poussin at a poster gallery, and the authenticity is questioned.
I am reminded of a social experiment that was conducted by a guy with a one ounce gold coin who asked passersby if they would buy it from him at a discount so he could buy a cup of coffee. The value of the coin at the time was over $1,600 but no one believed that it was real. There was no trust because the authenticity could not be demonstrated. He started asking $100 for it and ended up finally getting a taker for under $20. To the right buyer in the right outlet, the gold coin would have commanded its real value or close to it. The same is true for a Poussin represented by a prestigious gallery. What this experiment actually measured was risk. To the buyer at under $20 it was worth the risk that it was a fake because he could absorb the loss and not look foolish.
If your plan is to participate in the higher levels of the art market, then you must have a strategy. By aligning all the necessary underpinnings of value, you minimize doubt and that just may result in a higher priced sale. If you still need help in aligning your artwork with the appropriate market level and pricing, give us a call.
Brett Barney is CEO of American Fine Arts Foundry, Inc., an innovator for more than 40 years in patinas and finishes for fine art bronze and a Fine Art Appraiser.