Sunday, January 16, 2011

Art for art's sake

Why do people buy artwork? I cannot answer for others but I buy art for one very simple reason - I like what my eye sees and the colors appeal to me, I would love to have that dash of color up on my walls, and then of course I have to be able to afford it. I could care less about the artist, maybe that sounds too callous, but what I mean is it does not matter to me whether it has been done by a practically unheard of street artist or MF Hussain. Granted, I rarely buy artwork, not because I do paintings myself but because art work is always horrendously expensive. Why is that?

Many of you folks know by now that a lot of the work I do is reproductions by "famous" artists. I like the original work, but I can never afford to buy it, so I decide to recreate it for myself. None of them are however exact reproductions, because very often I just do not get the paint mix combinations right. But I am usually happy with the end result. My husband asks me all the time "Why don't you paint something original? Something you have created?" And my answer always is "But but but... I like that painting and I cannot afford it, so I'll just do it for myself!!!".

I have friends who spend fortunes on artwork, and I mean a LOT of money and I can never understand why! Maybe there is a good reason...I've heard that they are collectors' items. What does that mean exactly??? So here is my question to you...
Would you rather buy this for Rs 80,000 by a "famous" artist
or this for Rs 2000?
This for Rs 50,000, again by a "famous" artist
or this for Rs 2500?
Why would a painting cost Rs 80,000? There's just paint, canvas, and time involved????Just asking.....I've always wondered!!

16 comments:

GB said...

Here's my take on it: -- first up, I don't have that kind of spare change lying around---whatever money there is, has several FAR better uses it could be put to. I've never been brand conscious either--so I have no reason to want to add a name to my collection. As far as I'm concerned, I love the folk art of India---each piece is original, they are affordable, handmade and most importantly the money will (hopefully) go back to support the poor artisan. as far as high-flying "discovered" artists are concerned, I'll pass and leave it up to Mr or Mrs moneybags--after all those artists need the money to pay their bills/lifestyle too--but if their lifestyle is wayyyyyyy beyond mine, I can't very well support them, right?

Coming to your work: even your reproductions are priceless--to me, they are YOUR interpretation of the art. aka an original Kamini. Couldn't care less who made the original---it is the knowledge that my friend put in those brushstrokes, making it invaluable to me--that personal connection is priceless.

Anpu said...

Here is my take on this - Fine art has been making huge financial news for the last 40 or so, years and fine art certainly represents a huge investment. No one wants to see the value of expensive purchases decline over time, hence fine art is also akin to stocks, where the established ones offer safety, stability and prices do not fluctuate, while the lesser known/newbies offer lower priced/affordable art. If one can afford it, fine art pieces are good portfolio diversifiers. Also we need to remember the original artist has spent a liftime in establishing his brand, so it is absolutely ok to pay the dues.
So it is upto the buyer to buy an Original or a Reproduction, based on what he wants in the art or the art to represent...

Kamini said...

GB - folk art is something I love to buy too cos I know how much work goes into handmade products like that. Ever since I saw the painstaking block printing process in Jaipur last year, my appreciation for it went up 100%. But we are talking paintings here....canvas, paints...and I don't think the need that much money per painting to pay their bills ! Thanks for the nice comments on my work!
Anpu - Agreed the buyer can do what he wants with his money, after all it is HIS money. But is it responsible of the seller to sell it at that price? Is it all about supply and demand ultimately? And the bit about the artist spending a lifetime establishing himself....umm...not sure I buy that!
Gosh I love healthy discussions like this!

Shalini said...

I'm an avid collector of art and have paintings from known artists as well as students. It doesn't matter who has made it to me, just that I must like it, and I must be able to afford it.

A large part of my collection was bought when I worked at an art gallery and got a 33% discount....so I got to buy art from some famous people, but very frankly I don't think I would have bought them if I had to pay full price.

So yes, price is a huge part of it. What I really like is the hunt for a great piece of work for a good price, and also something that has a nice history to it. Like the canvas still life of fruits that I bought in Rhode Island from the $20 shagun I got from an aunt. That will always be something memorable. So, for me the story is very important as well.

Kamini said...

Shalini...nice to hear from you! I am debating here the astronomical prices that art is priced at, and trying to understand why they are priced that high, not so much why people buy them at that price. An artist in the early stage of his career prices art much less than his later successful stage. Why is that? Because he has a name now???? Maybe I'm missing something here....

Shalini said...

I think it's all connected. Artists will only charge high prices when they feel people are willing to pay, either for their work or just for their name.

All artists I have met have been the most generous people, willingly gifting artwork, maybe as a balance to charging high prices!

MindfulMeanderer said...

Those are lovely reproductions kamini.. :)
I love to have my artwork in my house.. never could afford famous artists.

Anpu said...

Agree with Shalini...It is also Supply and Demand for a unique piece. If a buyer is ready to buy the brand at the price that I am ready to sell at, ...then so be it.
These become family heirlooms and investments
I too love these conversations,.:-)

GB said...

Hmmm..it's not always the artist per se who sets the price is it? What about mmiddlemen? and dealers? Once the artist has passed on, the price of their work keeps escalating (that has to be the work of dealers right? so they're probably the ones who inflate prices on these) also there was an interesting article on ETSY at one point---on how to price your work....it gave a perspective from the artist's viewpoint--these are people who make their living doing this--this is their job, not something on the side (bills and tuition and all that jazz..........) So yeah, I can appreciate both sides of the story here.......but I'm still not paying! :)

Anu Gummaraju said...

Here's what I think... Buying expensive art is an indulgence. Like Gagan said there are far better uses for money. It's like brand consciousness perhaps...

Having said that - I feel that pricing art and paying for it must depend on the artist's skill and creativity, the difficulty of the medium, whether the artist and the art display something so original / valuable to merit it's price. And unfortunately none of these seem to be present in the work and pricing of so many expensive pieces of art. Scribbles by a famous artist that anyone can reproduce or that is not original or striking does not merit a high price just because. If it does display all of this and I have the money - I'd pay for it :).

Rekha said...

oh, this is an interesting topic.
It's like paying a price for exclusive piece of Armani or Gucci, if people can shell over 50k for a tailored piece of fabric (after all the fabric wouldn't cost so much)..or a designer handbag.....
Its another matter that if I had to choose b/n a designer garment or an exclusive piece of art, I would vote for the latter.
So...let the artist make his $$$ as long as there are buyers, after all he has to earn some jam and butter too in addition to his bread :)
Hmm, wait before you jump into conclusion that I am willing to shell out a bomb, no way! I am a bargain hunter to the core and would rather buy 10 imitations for the price of one...
Curious to read more views :)

Kamini said...

Hmmmm have definitely opened up a Pandora's box here. Maybe the reason this topic touches a raw nerve for me (as opposed to Gucci bags and designer clothing) is because I paint too, tho I am certainly not in the league of even the average painters. Rekha - thats got be some mighty expensive bread, butter and jam :-)

Patricia Torres said...

I do think there is some lovely young talent out there.. that dont get enough recognition.. I beleive in promoting and purchasing art from younger artists.. Some are simply over the top expensive.. and at times.. Im not a 100% sure if they deserve all the attention they get...

Art .. is art!! regardless of who has painted it.. as long as it looks good to my eyes.. and fits my pocket.. its in my house.. or is gifted away..

I'm not really a collector.. for some reason.. but I can surely admire it.. and replicate it as well.. not for resale.. but for the simple joy.. that I've made it!! :-)

Sidu said...

omg u just stole the words from my mind.... my hands often itch to recreate artwork i see online and then i hide them in my closets coz i m sooo scared of copyright issues.... i guess the cost is for their creativity...and since i lack that and i love doing recreations, i think i better make more space in my closet ;>

Kamini said...

Sidu...yes, there are copyright issues which is why I never sell my recreations. They are mostly for myself or I give them away. It wouldn't be right on my part to make money off of someone else's creativity. I just came up with a random cost for the examples I put on this post, I have no intention of selling them and making money. And just fyi - in Europe and the US, I have very often come across student painters in galleries, trying to copy the masterpieces to improve on their technique.

Preethi Prabhu said...

Hey Kamini,
I buy art for the same reason as you. I love to have splashes of color around my house and every time I look at the, it gives me joy. I believe art is a piece of happiness that everyone deserves and every one should be able to afford.
No, I dont believe in paying a huge amount of money for art, artifacts or furniture. In case of art, certain artists hype up their image by increasing the value of their paintings and people buy them thinking they are an investment.
With artifacts and furniture its a different story, the artists who make them still rot in poverty while and the buyer pays dearly while the middle men make hefty profits.