Fresh Paint – “This Little Rothko Went to Market”

Even in times of economic crisis, the value of art never truly drops. According to Carol Vogel in his article “This Little Rothko Went to Market”, art collectors tend to spend millions of dollars on paintings, drawings, and sculptures in times of economic crisis. Some collectors feel safer by turning their cash into artworks in the time of the euro crisis and American recession, while others feel safer selling their art in times of crisis. While the stock market fell 3% in September, auction and private sales “remained robust,” as Marc Porter stated, and had an increase in new buyers. Thus the market for art is ever expanding and growing.

Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury & Company are hosting auctions in New York this month in order to capitalize on the collectors’ plights. Many collectors will be attending the auctions that will be hosting artworks ranging from millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. With the future of the American politics uncertain, many American sellers have been selling their art in case the 28% tax on fine art increases. Artworks from Monet, to Rothko, to Picasso are being auctioned, but mostly to appeal to the new collectors whose preferences are still unclear. The savviest art collectors, Steven A. Cohen, Peter M. Brant, Stephen A. Wynn, and Douglas S. Cramer, will be attending the two week long auction season along with the crowd of new collectors in hopes of purchasing famed blue chip artworks.

Mark Rothko’s “No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue).”

As Brett Gorvy said, in the article, “its an icon market.” Art collectors buy the best, they buy the most expensive, and for what purpose? For bragging rights? For making profits? Is the value of a work of art the price it is given? From reading this article, it seems as though art collectors aren’t buying art, but rather a safety net for investment and a status in the art world. Collectors aren’t appreciating the beauty and magnificence of these works of art, but are appreciating the price tags given in the auction houses instead. Personally, I believe that art should be shared and appreciated by everyone, not kept hidden in someone’s house or storage facility waiting to be auctioned off in the light of economic gain.

12 thoughts on “Fresh Paint – “This Little Rothko Went to Market”

  1. Like I have said before, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But it seems like the richest people in the world and the most renowned collectors have the same “taste” in art or same perspectives on beauty. It may be a case of them setting the standards for what beauty holds in art, and beauty is valued and priced like all things in the world. I agree with you in that art should be revealed for everyone to see and it is in the intentions of the artist to do so. Consequently, if the greatest art pieces that supposedly hold the most beauty become exclusive, there is nothing wrong with that either. With a higher demand for the piece comes exclusivity that translates to a higher price tag.

  2. I agree with you that art should be appreciated by everyone instead of being held in a house or storage facility as a safety investment. However, the fact is that art is bought and sold all the time. And if someone has enough money to purchase art, he also has the right to do what he wants with it. Maybe that is why some extremely rare and precious works of art are simply not for sale! It’s unfortunate that people often make selfish or one-track-minded decisions that don’t benefit society very much, but what can you do? Once someone owns a painting, it is his exclusively.

  3. It’s really interesting to think that some people would buy art as a form of investment instead of aesthetic pleasure or appreciation. Although it is a clever way of forming a safety net for times of economic crisis I think it also devalues the artwork because the artist’s original purpose for it is being disregarded. I don’t think the price of a painting can always represent the true value of it, but oftentimes the price correlates to the demand of the artwork; if the demand is high, the price will be high as well.

  4. I’m sure not all art collectors are collecting art for the money value. I understand that having that purpose devalues what art is for, but at the same time, I empathize and realize that it’s acceptable in times of economic crisis. Art is sold off to individual people all the time, I would assume. Money is still moved around and it contributes to the economy. I would think people still put up expensive art pieces at home to look fancy. The money value for future use is just an extra plus. Yes, art should be for everyone, but that’s too ideal.

  5. The art market is quite complex, like many of the comments point out. Other factors are new talent, an artist’s body of work, missing pieces in a collector’s particular taste in art. I agree with Jeffrey, valuations can be driven by different economic, institutional or subjective influences, such as auction houses, galleries, collectors, art institutions, and public visibility.

  6. I agree that art should be shared and appreciated by everyone instead of being held in a house or storage facility waiting to be auctioned off in the light of economic gain. I agree with Jihae that it is interesting to see how some people would buy art as a form of investment, and using art as a form of safety net for times of economic crisis. Selling and buying artwork for such reason definitely devalues the artwork. Even though i don’t think price defines artwork, but the higher the demand for the piece the higher the price.

  7. This is a pretty interesting article to say the least. I feel people gain solace from hard times with art or focusing on art, which is one of the reasons art sales remain high even in these hard economic times. In this case, the art collectors are smart. Since fancy art pieces are considered to have a set value, this value tends not to change even in hard times. By spending their current money to buy the fancy art, the collectors can sell it later if they so choose and get their cash back.

  8. The value of artwork is definitely not defined or justified by its price. The price of these artworks is only justified by its demand. It does seem as though art is being seen as an investment. However, when one purchases an artwork and sells it for less than the purchasing price, has the person made a bad investment? If that is the case, the meaning of the artwork is certainly devalued.

  9. I agree that art should be appreciated by all but in recent times, people have begun to look less at what is historically or aesthetically pleasing in art and more towards their wallets because of the economy. While it may seem unfair to the artist, art is a stable investment and the fact of the matter is people do not appreciate it the way they used to. Art used to be admired but with recent culture, the interest in art has declined which can be seen in this article. I don’t think that these people should buy art to save their money but they will do it anyways.

  10. Unfortunately for artists everywhere, their artwork is more of an investment than a subject of deep thought and aesthetic appreciation. With this poor economy, various works of art can be bought at low prices only to be sold at higher prices later to ensure some form of wealth for their owners. But I think that while art owners are waiting to sell off their works, they can still appreciate the thought and work behind paintings, sculptures, etc. If you buy something, you may as well get the most of what you bought, right?

  11. I’m not surprised at this at all. Art tends to increase in value over time as it comes to represent an era instead of just being collected for its aesthetic value. Therefore, it’s a solid investment. As some collectors are hit by the economic turbulence of this era, they liquidate their collections to keep themselves afloat and people buy these paintings knowing that their value will increase over time. As such, I wouldn’t expect the art market to get hurt much by the current state of the economy.

  12. I think its disgraceful that we’re throwing around millions of dollars DURING an economic crisis when so many other countries barely get by in a regular economy. Why are drawings and sculptures so highly priced? Furthermore, what will art enthusiasts do with their newly bought pieces? It will only be hung on some wall in their homes or put on display somewhere – in either case, their newly acquired assets will just be sitting around collecting dust. In less fortunate countries, a fraction of a percent of what these enthusiasts are throwing around would be enough to build a school or hospital, or provide food and clean water. Would it not be better to use our wealth to increase the quality of life for our fellowmen, rather than on stationary material objects that literally do nothing for society?

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