Is There Any Rationale in Judging Art?

Publication Year



Art, art education, art appraisal, judging art, art history


Art and Design | Art Education | Fine Arts | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


Two couples were sitting around talking about art, and one of the men said, "I could create a work of art in ten minutes." So one of the ladies bet him ten dollars that he couldn't do it. He immediately went downstairs, pulled out some masonite and paint and began to create his work. In ten minutes he arrived upstairs with a slab of masonite covered with swirls of paint. The lady gladly gave up her ten dollars, and considered it money well spent on a good laugh. Shortly after, he decided to frame his artwork and put it in the entry way as a conversation piece. A couple of years later a doctor friend was sitting in that entry way, putting on his snow boots, when he looked up to see the painting. He said, "I love that painting. It would look great in my office. Who is the artist?" Of course, the man said, "I am." The doctor proceeded to ask if he had any more paintings, and of course he didn't. So the doctor asked if he would sell that painting. He offered him $200, but the man did not want to sell it, it was worth more to him as a conversation piece then $200. Who is to say that this painting is not worth $20 or $2000?

As a student of art history, I have always wondered what the rationale is for judging art. How can one painting be worth $60 million and another only $1000? At one point in time it was the Pope or King who chose the artist and decided how much the artist's work was valued. Now art is judged by a headless entity consisting of critics, media, newspapers, television, art magazines and rumors. Some critics judge artists based on their education, permanent collections in museums, one-person shows, group shows, or even how well they communicate their message. Some clients purchase art for investment, for personal satisfaction, because they have strong emotional ties to a piece or because it matches their furniture. What is the most influential factor in evaluating art? There is not one, but rather a conglomeration of factors that determine the value of a piece of art.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status


Department 2 Awarding Honors Status


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