Art per metre
(base in mm. + height in mm.) * coefficient

by Jizaino, 14 July 2008

Nowadays in the art market the gallerists and the artists comply to this formula with which they determine the selling price of the artworks: the sum of base and height expressed in millimetres (or in centimetres adding a zero) is multiplied by the actual coefficient of the Artist, which expresses the value of that Artist.
That coefficient will grow in time as that Artist will make its way, and it may start with a fraction of one for the beginners, till to arrive to values of many tens for the biggest artists and the masters of the past.

But, does it have a meaning the method of evaluating the price of a work of Art depending on its sizes? Does it have a logic for correctness in defining prices, or is it a commercial ethic?
Or that is a blind computation based on the official quotation of the Artist, whatever it does, not taking under consideration other elements, such as: the peculiar beauty of a work in respect to another, the preciosity of the materials, the expression intensity, and the relative value that it can have for a certain buyer or the Artist itself; in this latter case is not it more logic the mechanism of the auctions where the best offerer wins?

In my opinion, in many cases the quotation per metre may influence the work of an Artist, because it may be constrained, at least for the lowest amounts, to the production of artworks that may fit into the expenses and the necessary engagement; yet, also pushing it to create following a production standard, this is to say, a seriality that may come to the repetition and the loss of imagination. It is not a coincidence that we can see a surplus of artworks that are more similar to a commercial mass product than a product of the genius that stands for its uniqueness.

Entitling this article "art per metre" does not mean that selling per metre is devaluing, but it is referred to the method per sé that takes under consideration only the Artist's person. In my opinion it is possible to find another way to value an artwork other than the Artists' signature.

I do not want to disbelieve that may there be who, painting in an invariable way, may standardize its own price with a coefficient per metre; but, the point is that for somebody it may confine them into the standardization of even the expression method, and the technique.

Besides, even to quantify the quality of an intellectual contribution in an artwork is a non measurable matter, since it is subjective; for this reason it would seem more logic the method of an auction sale.

Moreover, we must consider also that somebody may desire to create large or huge sized works in order to earn much with a minimum effort.

Another topic is the realization of a sculpture: its production cost is a preponderant factor, at least for the sculptures of large sizes that often require the work of more professionals. In fact, often these works are commissioned before the realization with a cost estimation enquire. Indeed the matter of sizes * coefficient applies to bidimensional arts.
But, if we would apply the method to sculpture, maybe talking of art per weight, we could make an example with ham: cured ham so much per weight and salami so much per weight; hence marble so much per weight and bronze so much per weight.
If we talk about materials there is nothing to except: the Artist charges the client for the material that constitutes the artwork, just as the car repairer charges you for the spare part. In the case of artists with very high quotations, the cost for materials represents anyway just a minimal part of an artwork's price.
Then, we could ask ourselves how much to value the other factors: contents, liking, subjective beauty, transmission of concepts or intellectual affinity; I do not consider the time and the commitment spent in the realization of an artwork, because in my opinion the ratio between time and commitment spent is proportional to the genius of the Artist: there is who in a short time makes an excellent artwork without efforts, and who spends much time and efforts for mediocre achievements; shortly: only the result is important.

Surely the Artist may take on the responsibility to be more or less marketable, choosing higher or modest quotations and determining the prices at will, but, in a market system that contemplates the use of the method sizes * coefficient, a gallerist does not even consider other possibilities, rejecting the Artist too pricey or not much fruitful, that is not generating profit.

And going beyond: if the coefficient with which the price of an artwork is determined would determine also some parameters artistic-expressive such as creativity, poetics and concepts, then who can arrogate the right to decide for the buyers what is the size of their appreciation, of their likes? And here it is: we arrive to the salient point: nobody may decide how much could be worth an artwork and there is no mathematical method to pre-establish its price, which is revealed only with the issue from the negotiation between who is giving the artwork and who in buying it.

Jizaino -