Monday, June 3, 2013

How do you put a price on priceless art? Very easily; you ask someone to buy it.

Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime. In 1990 his Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82.5 million. How could there be such a disconnect?

The answer is simple: If no one values what you do, it has no value. You are producing your art (or any product) to be consumed by humans, which is why their rejection of what you have produced devalues it. You may scoff, but stop and think: if humans aren't the target audience...who is? Bugs? Trees? If you think Parisians are a tough crowd, try making a cactus laugh.

In Van Gogh's time, no one had any interest in his work. Forget potential buyers outbidding each other: the guy had to mooch off his brother to make ends meet. After he died, circumstances changed, and suddenly a large portion of humanity fell deeply in love with his work; giving it the value it now enjoys. Van Gogh's contemporaries put the price at zero. Today's humans put the price in the millions. And if some drastic change in taste should occur and there is a backlash against Vincent's paintings, their price could fall right back to zero.

We weep for the great artists who died in obscurity (it is primarily artists we transform from failures to martyrs). We discuss their works now and wonder: How could people fail to recognize the brilliance? But of course there are artists working right this second who will die in obscurity and become famous posthumously. Right now, they can't give their work away (you probably don't even know it exists). Someday that work will be priceless. And someday your children or grandchildren won't be able to believe people like you didn't discover its brilliance.

Poor guy. Literally.

No comments: