Value of Art – R. Sostenuto

The Value of Art

A piece of artwork speaks a thousand words, but what determines the value? Does the artist, or is it the abundance, or insufficient amount of pieces that were created actually choose the value? Is it the background the artist came from, having wealth or none at all? Question progress to establish a value on a piece of artwork. There is no easy answer to determine the price tag of art. Creating a piece of art is not a simple task to accomplish, tons of hard work, and dedication is put into just one piece to make it successful. Only a true artist can understand how hard it is to get people to understand, and be able to like what they have created to try to make people pay for what is created.  Walter Benjamin, like other great literary “attempts to analyze and understand the interrelation of political, technological and artistic development under capitalism” in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (Walter).

What makes art so valuable? is it commodity and cultural wealth of the pieces being created?  The value is determined by how much somebody is willing to pay for it and the demand for it in the art market. If only one piece of artwork is created, the value of the price is increased, but vice versa if more pieces of the same work is created the value is decreased. Value of a painting can also be determined by the historical value of a painting, the famous artist that created it, and the subject the artwork is portraying. Jackson Pollock founder of splatter paintings created art that anyone would be able to do.  He created uniquely defined styles of splatter and drips. He had a keen eye of the placements and use of colors. Since he was the first creator of this type of art the value of it was exceptionally high for something so simple.

Printmaking dates back to the 8th century and has developed over the years into many different types of categories. Printmaking is the process of creating prints with the value of its originality, rather than the creation of a photo reproduction. When an artist creates a printmaking piece, they try to limit the number of prints to increase the value of the set. Andy Warhol was an American artist who was known for the pop art movement. He created a type of printmaking known as serigraph, or can also be known as silk-screening. A serigraph or silk-screening uses a flexible stencil to create images. By using a flexible stencil makes it possible to transfer onto different surfaces. When using this method of printmaking multiple numbers of screens can be used to produce a multicolored image. Andy Warhol took objects of simplicity instead of difficulty, and turned them into something someone can appreciate and call art.

One of Andy Warhol’s well-known pieces of work is the silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe’s face.  Andy Warhol wanted an assembly line to produce a mass production of pieces of work. “With silk-screening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. When Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face the first Marilyn’s” (Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Prints).  The value of these types of prints all depends on the number in which it was created. If the prints are closer to the single digitals, then the values of the prints were greater and more valuable.

“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin discusses the advantages of being able to mass-produce. “A work of art that once could only be seen by the wealthy in a museum or gallery could be reproduced at little cost and made accessible to many more people” (Walter). With the advantage of the use of technology the value of art is slowly decreasing and can easily be reproduced.  The historical art has a greater value than the art being produced today, since the technology can now produce artwork more rapidly.

Benjamin, Walter. Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1935.

“Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Prints.” Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Prints. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. <;.


One comment

  1. Roxanne,

    This is well written to a point. Value seems to stop at the end of the writing. No conclusion is given, just repetition of statement.
    It seems like value is only determined when the original essence is gone for good. What about the value of the work’s affect on the populace?
    Tough subject but one I wanted to expose all of you to especially in the context of commercial design. Good work this semester.

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