Part I – Eye appeal, Subject matter, Period, Medium, and Signature

Part II – Reputation, Condition, Authenticity, Provenance, Publication and Exhibition History, and Originality

Part III – Guarantee, Quality, Rarity, and Value

Reputation. An artist’s reputation is of crucial importance in the art field. A work by a widely recognized artist is always valued more highly than a work by a beginner or unknown. This is the American way in almost all fields – sports, entertainment, literature, as well as art.

Condition. Value of a work of art is also affected by condition. Conservation and repair of art is expensive, and works in poor condition often sell for a fraction of their value. Responsible dealers use an ultra violet light to determine the condition of antique works of art. With some artists or types of work, it may be impossible to find a piece in pristine condition. In these situations, the importance of condition is interpreted in the context of the artist’s oeuvre.

Authenticity. Dealers who represent artists or their estates automatically have access to primary source information that can be used to authenticate works. A dealer with an extensive history of handling a specific artist’s work will also build up an archive of information as well as body of experience that can help resolve questions of authorship and title. Dealers will either authenticate works in their areas of specialization or make a referral to an appropriate expert.

Provenance, Publication and Exhibition History. A good provenance can help establish authenticity, art-historical importance and title. Similarly, including in significant publications or exhibitions may enhance a work’s pedigree by documenting it and certifying scholarly approval. However, the absence of a complete provenance need not be a cause for alarm. A dealer can help evaluate a specific provenance to determine its legitimacy and significance. The inclusion of an important dealer in the history of a work can significantly augment its provenance.

Originality. A mature artist is expected to have discovered his individuality and to express it in the work. Originality is a part of style and comes naturally to the mature artist. As a corollary, copies throughout the art field are held in low esteem and one who copies too closely from photographs or the art of others will not be considered a fine artist.

Sources: “The Art Fever” by James Parsons and the Art Dealers Association of America

Andrew Wolf, LLC
19th & 20th Century Fine Art, Art Pottery, Sculpture & Books

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