25.07.2024 Collection Tips

What are the most important factors that determine the value of a work of art in a nutshell?

by Dr. Hans Jürgen Kronauer

Imagine standing in front of a work of art - perhaps a painting, a sculpture or an installation - and asking yourself what value it has. Dr. Hans Jürgen Kronauer, a renowned art historian with many years of expertise, provides some concrete and fascinating insights.

 

What is it that defines the value of a work of art?

The value of a work of art is determined by the following factors
-     The name and reputation of the artist 
-     Technique and size of the work
-     Motif, period and condition of the work                                                                                                                       

Freelance artists have to make a name for themselves. This usually involves attending an art academy, becoming a master student of a respected artist at the academy and having your work recognised in the academy's exhibitions. 
After training, the crucial step is to find a gallery with a good reputation in the art market that will support the artist, exhibit his work and establish initial contacts with exhibition institutions.If the works are then recognised by art critics, exhibition organisers and collectors in group and solo exhibitions, they are given an artistic value. The commercial value of the works then develops proportionally.

 

The materiality of the artwork 

 

If an artist has already created an extensive oeuvre, certain motifs or phases of the artist's work may attract more interest from private or institutional collectors than the others. The associated selection or anti-selection then acts as a further factor influencing the value of the individual work of art.

 

Extensive Oeuvre

 

If an artist has already created an extensive oeuvre, certain motifs or phases of the artist's work may attract more interest from private or institutional collectors than the others. The associated selection or anti-selection then acts as a further factor influencing the value of the individual work of art.

 

The Condition of the Artwork

 

Condition is relevant to value. A work by a young artist offered by a gallery will almost always be in pristine condition. Older works offered in the art trade or at auction may have been damaged or restored, resulting in a potential reduction in value. In the reputable art trade, such damage or restoration is clearly indicated. 
Conversely, professional and conservative restorations that do not detract from the artistic statement or the aesthetic experience of the viewer may remain neutral or even increase in value.

 

When assessing the value of an Artwork, what are the most important factors?

 

✔Proof of undisputed authorship. Works of modern art are usually signed, in the case of two-dimensional art either on the front or on the back.

✔ Signatures are evidence of this authorship and can be a document. Authenticity is guaranteed by an expert in the case of older works or works by non contemporary artists. 

✔If the authorship of a work is unclear, it cannot be sold in the serious art trade or will have little or no commercial value.Whether a mercantile valuation is appropriate in a particular case depends on the reason for the valuation and the market situation.                                                

✔Should the work of art be bought or sold, should it be insured, or should it be sold as quickly as possible in a forced sale?                                                                      

✔Assuming it is a new purchase in the art trade, the appropriate purchase price of a work comparable in terms of artist, technique, period, motif and size can be determined by consulting auction price lists on the Internet, adding taxes, the so-called premium and a customary trade margin to the hammer price.                                  

✔For works by 20th and 21st century artists that are rarely or never traded in the secondary auction market, research through AI-assisted artist databases that take into account exhibition history, future exhibitions and purchases by private and institutional collectors as well as auction results.