Paul Klee, 1932, oil on canvas, 39" x 49"
I've been struggling lately with the recent decision to raise prices on my artwork. There were three justifications for doing so: (a) they were underpriced, (b) I'm getting better at what I do (!) and (c) those who collect my work or who have purchased my work in the past deserve to see the value of their investments increase now that the stagnant economic situation of the past couple of years has eased somewhat. While playing this out in my head it occurred to me that (c) represents something of a turning point in my career -- i.e. thinking about the people who like my work as much as my own struggling economic situation. I, too, have a small collection of original art and there's no question that they are among my most important possessions. As a minimalist by nature who doesn't collect things that says a lot!
On the other hand, when discussing this with a dealer, I decided not to raise the prices on my smallest pieces more than a tiny bit because "...I do like the idea of the small ones being really affordable for people who don’t normally buy art -- but might get hooked if they give it a try!"
I'm reading a book right now called My Love Affair With Modern Art by legendary Chicago curator and gallerist Katharine Kuh, who showed and curated many of the mid-century greats, like one of my own favourites, Paul Klee. I love this quote: "Prices, then as now, are interesting social barometers having nothing to do with the quality or staying power of art, but as cultural guideposts they provide valuable telescopic information. And when, to be sure, has art not performed as a reliable adjunct to history?"
When I see what prices trendy artists, whose work reflects current obsessions, command for their work I have to agree. Wish I could fast forward a hundred years and see what niche they occupy in the art marketplace then!