Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Old is an Old Painting and When Does It Die?

A funny thing happens in the art world. Really, really old paintings can be worth quite a lot of money. This is particularly true if the artist is no longer living. In fact, even not so old paintings become more valuable after the artist dies. It makes perfect sense from a market standpoint because there were a limited number of pieces of art produced by the artist within his/her lifetime. And as that limited number gets sold, there are even less available making the remaining work even more valuable.

On the other hand, a living artist just works away and who knows how much work will be made in his/her lifetime. Strangely, art by a living artist that is more than a few years old is considered old work, at least by the art world. And old work isn't as desirable. Artists who enter shows almost always encounter the rule that the work can't be more than two or three years old. Those older (more than three years old) unsold pieces tend to hang around in storage because they just aren't shown anymore. There they sit. They are probably perfectly good, maybe very good, maybe excellent. But they're "old".

Reed Calligraphy I (circa 2008)

A while back, I was ruminating on the "older" paintings hanging out on my painting rack. And I got to thinking. One painting in particular, Reed Calligraphy I, had a fairly successful life. It was in several shows, but alas, no one opted to make it their very own. The fact is, there was something about it that had always bugged me. So I thought, well, why not see if I could make some changes to it just to see what might happen. So off the rack it came, and I began my attack.

Reed Calligraphy I (2011)

As you can see, I made significant changes. So I added the recent date to the painting. I think that should make it eligible as a new painting. Anyway, I'm satisfied with the changes I made. What do you think?

1 comment:

Patricia Sahertian said...

barb, i absolutely love this post. you have made quite a statement, and found a great way to make the old new again. great.