It is a truth universally acknowledged ( as in the book of Pride and Prejudice) that artwork is expensive. It is a luxury that not everybody can afford.
There are different kinds of buyers and different kinds of art but how to know if you are paying the right amount for a specific work?
To be able to discuss this properly I am going to divide Art into 2 categories. Outsider art and Insider art.
Let us start with Insider art -These are artists who usually have paid for their education and are formaly qualified as artists.
Outsider and folk art are artists who are not formally trained and usually do art as part of a ritual or as an obsession etc…
Before we start getting all pumped up defining which of these 2 categories is the best and most true artist , please lets keep to the point. We are discussing prices not artistic merit. Therefore one must look into the artist’s background to be able to define the price. Qualifications alone are not enough to sell artworks at very high prices.
Then we have to look into the artist’s longevity in the business. How long has the artist been doing art? Has he/ she been doing art for a long time? Are they part of important collections? Have they ever worked with a gallery? If not working with a gallery are they managing on their own? The most pathetic response by even members of artistic cultural entities is that they equate an artist as more of merit if he/she lives off his/her art only. Well that would depend on the individual. I met artists who go crazy in the studio locked up on their own and have been prescribed to work part time to keep their head in check by their psychotherapists. Not everybody is the same. Generalising is not the way.
When buying artwork from a gallery usually the artist has to pay between 30% to 50% commission to the gallery. Then there are taxes.
One also has to keep in mind the price of materials. Has anybody ever tried to walk around an art material store? A stretched canvas can cost up to 500 euros( massive one) and even more nowadays.. Framers nowadays sometimes feel like they deserve to earn more than the artist himself.
There are some oil tubes that cost around 60 euros (on the average) The brushes can go very high up in price as well. Studio space is usually rented, we have to pay for the electricity used , WIFI and count in the hours.
So basically when asking for the price of the artwork , the artist gives you the list of materials so you can understand what you are buying and how long it is going to last.A painting on linen will last 500 years, on cotton much less.
Also are you buying artwork as an investment? As part of a collection ? or to decorate your house?
Then you have to keep in mind the term- Art dealer and dealing. Prices are usually negotiated.