How to Appreciate Paintings #52: What to make of price in an art fair (Part 1)

Art fairs are good for learning how to appreciate paintings.
 
One of the biggest difference between an art fair and a museum exhibtion is price.  Art fairs are meant for the sales of paintings, hence almost all of the paintings in an art fair are priced.  Museum exhibitions are meant for the sharing of paintings, hence none of the paintings are priced.
 
When we look at paintings in a museum exhibtion, where none of the paintings are priced, we are able to look at all the paintings equally (except for the very famous paintings).  Our liking of a painting, or our value of a painting, is influenced by our own views of the painting; how the painting appeals to us visually and how the painting touches us emotionally.
 
The paintings in a museum exhibition, if available for sale, would of course be priced astronomically.  But every painting would be priced at different astronomical prices.  If we are in a museum exhibtion where the paintings are priced, our experience would be entirely different.  
 
We would be judging the paintings based on their price, comparing the higher priced painting with the lower priced painting.  We would be busy figuring out why a painting can be worth more than a building.  We would not be able to look at all the paintings fairly and we would not be able to truly appreciate the paintings for what they are, because we are influenced by their prices.  
 
How to appreciate paintings?  Because the paintings in a museum exhibtion are not priced, unlike in an art fair, we are able to appreciate the paintings for what they are, without been unduly affected by price.  

How to Appreciate Paintings #53: What to make of price in an art fair (Part 2)

Art fairs are good for learning how to appreciate paintings.  
 
Art fairs are meant for the sales of paintings, hence almost all of the paintings in an art fair are priced.  Prices of the paintings are either clearly stated on the tag beside the painting or available upon enquiry with the gallery staff at the booth.  
 
While the artistic value of a painting plays a part in its price, the price of a painting is also determined by multiple market forces.  A higher priced painting really means its demand is higher; it does not translate equally to a higher artistic value.    
 
When we are new to the world of paintings and art fairs, we tend to grab on to any information, such as prices, to help us appreciate the paintings. And because we are accustomed to prices in our everyday lives, we tend to over rely on the price of a painting.
 
Since we are at the art fair to learn how to appreciate paintings and not to make a purchase, we should not focus on the prices of the paintings.  Do not spend the time comparing the artistic value of the paintings by their prices or determining the artistic value of a painting by its price. 
 
Focus on looking at the paintings as we do in a museum exhibtion, without the influence of prices.  Make use of the extra resource that is not available in a museum exhibtion, that is the gallery staff manning the booths in the art fair and ask them questions.  (Read post “How to appreciate paintings #49: what to ask at an art fair”).  
 
How to appreciate paintings? Ignore the prices of paintings in an art fair so that you can focus on appreciating the painting for what it is.  

#21: Appreciating paintings – the cloud of price

Appreciating paintings the cloud of price - Cafes on the streets of Paris is an oil painting by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong

When appreciating paintings, how should we consider the price of a painting?

The price of a painting is available when the painting is for sales. It could be on the label on the wall or indicated with the painting on the website.

Listing the price of the painting facilities the sales process, but unintentionally affects our appreciation of the painting.

We rely on prices to judge the value of many things in our lives. In fact this has proven to be an efficient way to get around in our complicated and busy lives.

However, our value of a painting cannot be judged by its price.  Our response to a painting, i.e. how the painting has touched us, determines the value of a painting to us. Not its monetary price.

It is important to note that the price of a painting is determined by many factors, not just its artistic value.

Knowing the price before we have given the painting our due attention, clouds our appreciation of the painting. We may unconsciously find the painting a masterpiece, just because the high price suggests so. We may unwittingly ignore the painting that could have connected with us, because its price was unimpressive.
 
The best strategy to deal with the price of a painting is to ignore it, until we have carefully looked, feel and connected with the painting. We can consider additional external information such as price, after we have assessed the paintings ourselves.

Read: #10: How to appreciate art?  Look from the heart.

How to appreciate paintings? When appreciating paintings, do not let the price of the painting cloud your appreciation of the painting. Ignore the price; pay attention to what you feel about the painting instead.

Painting Image: Cafes on the Streets of Paris by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong / ARTualize.com.sg