Victor Boucher- Value of Art
Why is it that when artwork is easily reproduced through lithography, photography, and digitally the value of the work is diminished drastically no matter whose name is behind it? Why do we think some artwork and artists are more important and valuable than others? What really makes different pieces more valuable than others? Does easy reproduction really diminish the money value of artwork? These questions constantly appear when the value of artwork is questioned and when the reasoning’s of the value is questioned. With the creation of lithography, photography, and computers being used to produce artwork at a fast and massive pace it is hard to place a money value towards the artwork since multiple copies have been created and still can be by easy means.
The definition of value is the “relative worth, merit, or importance, equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.” (Dictionary) Value does not have any physical properties since it is purely based on the ideals of a culture. Different cultures determine different things to be significant which then increases the value. It can range from a religious item, to information, or to being a piece of art.
“The introduction of the technology of lithography, which enabled many copies to be printed from the same master plate, increased the potential of the lithograph to reach a mass audience.”(Benjamin) With lithography all you have to do is make sure the master plate is never destroyed and you’re able to constantly mass produce the piece. But if you destroy it the original prints may go up in money value depending how many prints have been created. If it was a print like the newspaper then there wouldn’t be any true value other than sentimental. I believe the most valuable thing of a lithographic print is only the master plate. If you just have a famous print, you only have the paper and ink. If you had the master plate you can control how valuable that specific piece of art is and how many copies can go out.
Photography is just as hard to put a price tag on as a lithographic print. With photography almost anyone can take the picture, let it be someone famous or not. Similar pictures can be achieved very easily, as well as mass producing prints. “Authenticity is no longer a relevant criterion for evaluating artistic production. In photography, for example, it makes no sense to ask for the “authentic” print.”(Benjamin) With anyone having the ability to point and shoot a photo you can’t really set any authenticity tag to increase the price of the print. The only way you can try to make a photos value increase is to destroy the items you have photographed, or to never disclose the area you have photographed. But when digital photography came along it makes it even harder to set a value on it since you can keep it digital on a screen and post it to the internet allowing anyone to save the picture and you can mass produce prints of the photo. This destroys any value that a print from a negative strip may have contained.
Digital art right now is having a battle with its value since you can print it in any form you would like and with it being digital anyone anywhere with a computer can have the artwork and anyone can copy and share it to their hearts desire. “…Just tell me how many copies exactly like these digital artworks you could do and tell me how would you than know which one is the original one. On the other hand, no one has another copy like this oil painting. It’s unique.”(itsartmag) With digital art it is almost impossible to have an original piece since the file can be copied over 100 times and still look exactly the same. But when you paint, draw, sculpt, etc. you are only able to make one piece and typically it’ll be very hard to recreate the same piece the exact same way.
Lithography, photography, and digital art work are all beautiful mediums and can have great sentimental value to some. But what everyone really worries about is the money value of each piece. For me, the true value of a piece of art should be by the materials and skill used in the production of the art. If gold was used that should increase the value, if a rare pigment was used (for example the artists blood) the price should increase drastically since no one would be able to get that pigment, especially if the artist is dead.
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