The Value of Art by Michael Findlay

Michael Findlay, The Value of ArtAlways on the path towards further enlightenment in my career, I recently read Michael Findlay’s The Value of Art published by Prestel.

Findlay, an art market veteran who has worked as a private dealer, auction house specialist, and appraiser, discusses the value of art through three lenses – the commercial, social, and essential. The book teaches how the art market functions through its various channels and gives entertaining and telling anecdotes along the way. For some people art is a financial investment, for others it is for showing off in front of friends, and for a few, an artwork strikes an emotional chord within them.

Jasper Johns, White Flag, 1955.

Jasper Johns, White Flag, 1955. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A work that Johns refused to sell – for him, it wasn’t worth it.

I enjoyed how Findlay was able to contextualize a theoretical overview of the art market, explaining that the price tag on an artwork carries a lot of meaning. Rarity, provenance, and the artist’s market are just a few of the ways to measure the market value of a work.

The most intriguing part of the book for me was to hear Findlay’s opinion about how the art market has changed over the years and where he sees it going. I found it quite interesting how he called the next “ism” after the Pop and Post-Modern movements, “Commercialism” – meaning that artworks fit into the context of being sold.

All in all, I found The Value of Art to be quite comprehensive and a pleasurable read.


Filed under Art, Literature

3 responses to “The Value of Art by Michael Findlay

  1. Yikees! What’s your thought on the next stage of art being “Commercialism?” Sounds pretty harsh.

    • I think that people know there is money to be spent and money to be made in the art market nowadays and that is pretty much out in the open. Findlay pointed out that auction houses have to constantly outdo themselves in terms of sales, constantly striving to break records and artists like Damien Hirst pump out artworks in a factory-like fashion and dealers like Larry Gagosian create a market for an artist to sell that work. It’s not really a secret – it’s all calculated much like real estate or finance with a different product and a different clientele. Art – as much as it serves our culture – is consumable.

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