Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 67

Part Three of a three-part post continued from Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 65

POINT THREE: First, this is not self-serving; it is an experiment that I am willing to personally conduct. That’s why, at my next show at Luis’s Colo Colo Gallery this fall (17 October – 6 November 2015), all of my work, all one hundred or so paintings, will be priced at $100 each. Selling my work for $100 will serve several purposes; I hope to sellout the show and most of my inventory, reduce my participation in the South Coast Art Lake and get my work out there.

Yes I could always use the money. And, if I sell all one-hundred paintings to one-hundred people, there will not only be one-hundred more people who own one of my paintings; their acquaintances will now also be familiar with my work.

If demand increases, so will the price.  But, if I have to raise prices to stem some of the demand, will that also indicate that my work is now more valuable? That’s how the stock market works.

Speaking of which, in the fall of 1967, there was something called the Times-Sotheby Index. It was, as are other perceived revolutionary ideas, the product of evolutionary changes. Art was seen, perhaps for the first time, as a commodity according to Anthony Haden-Guest who wrote True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World (1998).

Art is a commodity, albeit, a very different type. Yes, “…a pound of sugar is a pound of sugar, whereas a Picasso can be early or late, a revolution or a doodle, studio-fresh or a ruin.” All of these factors drove what became, “…a sort of Dow-Jones index of the art world”.


Ah, but it was short lived. Not because it didn’t work but because it made art as dirty as sex for sale. Ernst Fischer wrote in his seminal book The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach (1970), “Capitalism is not essentially a social force that is well-disposed to art or that promotes art: in so far as the average capitalist needs art at all, he needs it as an embellishment of his private life or else as a good investment

That said, closer to home, many of the more well-known artists in the South Coast (a touchy subject for another day) are those who are fortunate enough to be employed as college instructors. They can fortunately afford to maintain professional studios.

The many other, unknown artists unemployed within their profession cannot do the same.  They, however, try to sell their work at a price compatible with the more well-known artists who are able to charge more for their work.

It’s just market economics.   The South Coast’s art market’s participants consist of the buyers and sellers who, as anywhere else, influence prices. What’s going on here is a bit more than the basic market forces of supply and demand however. Art is, as Fischer wrote, “…subjected more and more to the laws of competition.

There’s the art itself.  What about art that is far too “modern” for a more traditional South Coast market? Or, what about art that is oddly too traditional for more “modern” tastes or sensibilities?

The South Coast is not (yet) home to or, an affiliate of any major or big city gallery. Galleries at this level are presently not within the reality of the current South Coast art scene. And, it’s not because the caliber of the art is not on par with the art in the larger metropolitan cities. It’s the lack of population density for one thing.

CONCLUSION: Art and money will always be inextricably linked it seems. Money represents wealth. Art prices in larger city galleries are higher because demand is higher. The price of a piece of art isn’t necessarily tied to its aesthetic quality or, even its intrinsic value.

The intrinsic value of an object is in itself or, for its own sake. The instrumental value, however, is reflective in the artwork itself for various reasons including who created it, how many are available and when it was created or made available to the market. It is also dependent on how much it will appreciate.

Obviously, there are buyers out there who buy art based more on its potential to appreciate rather than an appreciation for art. In other words, if a work is considered at some point by a collector to be undervalued and has the potential to gain value, it’s more than likely a good investment.

Rene Ricard said, “In this town, one is at the mercy of the recognition factor. One’s public appearance is absolute. Part of the artist’s job is to get the work where I critics) will see it,“ with a little help from the art gallery of course.

What Luis and I want then, is simply this, to significantly drain the South Coast Art Lake. We want to convince artists that no one is doing them any favors by convincing them to donate their work.  And, that the caliber of art being created here is worthy of greater attention and appreciation. Although success has its challenges, we’re willing to face them.


Posted on: 05/09/2015, by :
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