Should art have a price?

As we have been studying the Arts as an area of knowledge in TOK, the question ‘should art have a price?’ keeps popping into my head. I am not saying that people shouldn’t sell their art but more why do people buy other people’s art. Art to me is completely and utterly subjective. The subjectivist view states that there is nothing intrinsic in art itself that makes it good or bad but that it is according to the observer. I agree with this. Most of the art that I like has things I like in it, such as flowers or complementary colours. It is a matter of personal taste so what I fail to understand is why people pay so much for certain pieces of art?! Nude, Green leaves and Bust which sold for $106 million! Aren’t people buying paintings like these because they know certain people think they are beautiful? Who is to say that a work by Picasso is more beautiful than a talented Christ’s hospital student’s? No one. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder so why don’t we all appreciate art that we actually think is beautiful instead of what other people think.


2 thoughts on “Should art have a price?”

  1. Fair comments here, Mary. You make an important distinction between ‘cost’ and ‘value’ here.

    You might have seen this story on the news about a new record price for a work of art being set:

    It is interesting, I think, if we take a phenomenological view of the piece of art. If the image ‘really’ exists in our brains then it makes even less sense for anyone to pay so much money for the physical work.

  2. Yeh but sometimes people buy the art because it has a particular meaning to them (they may have a different interpretation to the reaction intended by the artist). This may be based on the viewer’s experience – the painting may have a personal significance, or they might buy it simply because it looks nice. For example, I feel a personal connection to an artist called Grayson Perry because we were born in the same place, because we both had a strong attachment to a childhood teddy bear and because his psychology is very interesting – he is a transvestite. His art is not necessarily ‘pretty’, but once you learn about the meaning behind it, you can appreciate the hidden ‘beauty’ in it. Asking why do people buy art is like asking why do people buy books or music for example. Why do people watch horror films? It may not be a ‘positive’ experience but that doesn’t make it unrewarding.
    Additionally, people often buy the art of people like Damien Hirst or Piero Manzoni (who sold his shit in a tin) because it offers a claim to fame, like a signature does. xxxxx

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