Pricing Paintings

A current exhibit at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin shows an exchange of letters in 1932 between the German Expressionist Max Beckmann and the gallery director about the acquisition of some of his paintings. Beckmann’s normal selling price was 10,000-12,000 marks for a canvas, but the gallery was unwilling to pay this much. Instead, the director offered a lower price, but promised to exhibit all of Beckmann’s paintings in a room devoted solely to his work. Beckmann stated that this would benefit him, since he presumably believed publicity from the solo exhibit would raise the value of his private sales. The deal was made; as in any exchange, both sides gained a surplus –Beckmann a producer surplus, the gallery a consumer surplus. Sadly, it took Beckmann quite a while to gain financially from the deal: he was one of the so-called “degenerate artists” whose works the Nazis soon banned.

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

Is it possible in the history of modern paint auction sales that there have been some 'Shill Sales' or Sucker Sales. A few well publicized record high sales, planted biders, and buzz that is all phony marketing.

How else could a 20 year old piece of modern art which is essentially a white canvas or something that resembles the garage floor oil stain under my Chevy, seek multiple milllions in price?

Are there shysters and carnies working this mulitmillion dollar market? Is the Pope still Catholic?

The saving grace is that it only targets rich people who should know better....A Fool and his Money are soon parted. The Rich are also discreet enough to not parade around their losses and mistakes--they just get an IRS deduction.

Eric M. Jones

@1 - Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

Apparently you just have no understanding of modern art.

David Aronchick

Art, like Internet Companies, does have a first mover/context advantage. A seemingly blank canvas seems worthless, but the context the person did it in ("It represents the emptiness of modern life") and/or the other artists who did it ("this was the FIRST blank canvas put up as art") makes a substantial difference.

Even so, it's a highly subjective pricing - by and large art is not a "good" investment if you only calculate based on dollars. But the market for art does price it fairly, because pricing includes not just monetary benefit, but aesthetic appeal. For nice coverage of this - see this NPR story (

Karen Colville, Artist

Pricing art and giving art value is more than placing a monetary value of it what is the skill of the artist,what century they are in and what they are representing or not representing at all.This is a fascinating subject as some works are priceless.
Art is a material creation made by someone some of the skill level investment into mostly time, materials travel, imagination, recreation,life experience go into creating a painting or sculpture.It is a lifetime of creation on the artists part by their hands and insights.
It is always the people in this kind of industry that determine the value and worth of an Artist and their work. In many cases offer new ways of looking at something in how we interpret this world with creative insight and problem solving.
Few real Artists receive the recognition or respect with value they deserve for all they put into creating something physical in this dimension of reality.