What Makes an Artwork Expensive?

How is it possible that a canvass covered with paint costs so much more than the house where you will hang it on? Well, below are the different factors that affect a painting’s value. 

Authenticity & Popularity of the Artist

There are painters and photographers whom we already considered as legends. So, any copy or inspired work from that painter, will definitely be cheaper than the real one. However, if an artist is popular at the time the painting is sold, then he can charge more. 

Provenance & History

When it comes to artwork, history is an important determining factor. If a work once belonged to a prominent director or from a respected gallery, then it will cost more. The stories behind those works make it even more interesting. If the work also plays a major role in a certain art period, then that’s another ‘0’ to its price. 

Medium and Condition of the Art

In general, works on canvas will sell more than those made on paper. This means, paintings will cost more than the sketch or a print an artist made. The condition, however, of the artwork plays a significant part. For example, an artwork damaged by the sun or even a small tear will mean a deduction on its price. 

Subject Matter

This may come as a surprise to others but certain subject matters tend to sell better than others. Generally speaking, paintings of beautiful women draw more attention than paintings of men. Sunny landscapes and calm seas are preferred over those dark ones. Of course, this doesn’t apply to works of famous painters. 

Wall Power

What exactly is wall power? It’s the artwork’s power to draw inspiration and attention from the audience by just hanging it on the wall. This is difficult to explain, but if a painting seems to capture more, then it sells more. 

Art Gallery

Most Expensive Paintings in the World

By this time, you might be thinking which paintings made it to the list of the most expensive paintings in the world? Here are 5 paintings worth knowing. Well, you probably won’t be buying any of these artworks anytime soon, but who knows, you might become a billionaire and those dream paintings might actually be a reality? 

1. Salvador Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci

This piece was sold at an auction in 2017 for a hefty $450 million! It was bought by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed which will soon be displayed in his future cultural centre. 

2. Interchange by Willem de Kooning

This abstract painting was one of Kooning’s first abstract landscape works. In 2015, it was sold for $300 million to CEO of hedge fund Citadel, Kenneth Griffin. 

3. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock

This painting made by the most famous abstract expressionist painter of all time was sold for $200 million. 

4. The Card Players by Paul Cezanne 

Sold in 2011, the piece was brought home by the Royal Family of Qatar for about $250 million. 

5. Nafea Faa Ipoipo by Paul Gauguin

Translated as “When Will You Marry?”, this piece was sold for $300 million to Qatar’s royal family. 

How Do You Price Your Artwork? 

If you’re an artist yourself, you might be wondering if there’s a formula to price your artwork. Luckily, there is a simple formula you can follow when deciding how much each of your creation costs. First, you have to remember pricing is directly related to your position and reputation in the industry. This means you can’t get the same prices as artists who already have credentials — not yet!

Art Gallery

When you’re just starting out, it would be advisable to make your work as affordable as you can, but not to the extent of not making even a small profit out of it. Especially, if you’re working with galleries, it’s important to note that they take 50% commission from sales, so you have to consider that as well. 

Here’s the formula you can follow: 

1. Multiply the width and length to get the total size. 

2. Then, multiply that by the amount you think is appropriate for your reputation. Perhaps, $2-$4 if you’re relatively new. 

3. Now, add the cost of the materials. 

Example: 16”-x-20” oil-on-linen landscape painting; materials cost $200

  1. 16×20 = 320 
  2. 320 x $2 = $640 
  3. $640 + $200 = $820 

If this painting sells, you’ll get $410 after deducting the gallery’s commission. 

Of course, this may vary if you take into account your emotions regarding that painting. Some artworks just seem to have that sentimental value, so you can add more to that. You can also increase your pricing as you sell more paintings. 

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