This last month I’ve been asked to appraise an acquaintance’s collection and im being faced with the difficulties that this entails.
First of all let me make it clear that I am in no way an appraiser, my trade is contemporary art, however this person trusts my taste and knowledge and entered into this agreement knowing this.
In any case it got me thinking on how volatile and complicated it is to assign value to a work of art. Unlike graphic design you can’t just add up time worked, intellectual time (time spent thinking on the project), and costs. Factors such as fame, current fashionable trends, cultural value and artistic skill amongst others. All of these are impossible to assign definite monetary values to, and whats worse even when a value is assigned, this value is temporary as these factors fluctuate as trends change, appreciating and depreciating the value accordingly.
It’s because of this that several artists I talked to seem to dislike the process or find it as an unnecessary annoyance, and that they should be allowed to determine their own prices. And while I agree that even the best appraisal is subject to suspicion, specially when large sums are involved, the practice of art valuation is necessary, specially as time passes and separating the wheat from the chaff becomes easier through the test of time, as it allows the trade of art objects.
And this trade is nothing new, wether the intention is religious, political or aesthetic, art has been commissioned, sold and traded as a commodity for a long time. If art is not traded then It is hoarded and kept as a show of personal power instead of a cultural contribution to the entire world, its messages would become diluted. Thus I have no problem with the sale of art, but I do think it needs better regulations and more transparency so that sellers and buyers know WHY its valued at one price and not another and having to take the word of someone who might not have the good of buyer and seller in mind.