« Is this artist rated on the art market ?”




Behind this question often heard, hide two different profiles. On one side, people who have heard of the art value index but are unknowledgeable of the art market’s inner workings or the origin of this index. On the other, people who know how the art market rating WORKS, and know the index regarding an artist’s “maturity” on the market. In both instances, this is to reassure and evaluate the value, or more precisely, an artist’s “potential”, in the speculative sense of the word. Therefore, the actual question is : “is it a good investment ?”, for which the art market rating is the indicator.


Yet, if the art market was to be regulated just as the stock exchange is, there would be a plethora of insider trading and market manipulation misdemeanors. At the heart of this system, the art market rating, largely and lavishly manipulated. Let me explain…



A quick reminder : the art market rate comes exclusively from the auctioning of an artist’s artworks. During these auctions is recorded, either the expert’s mandatory evaluated price (prior to the auction), if the artwork isn’t sold, or the hammered selling price, if the artwork has a buyer. The averaging of these two prices creates an artist’s art market rate. A simple principle in itself : the more amateurs there are for an artwork, the higher the selling price will go up.


But hidden behind this simplicity, are behind-the-scene deals among “art friends”.


  • Anyone can have an art market value, he or she simply has to auction off. Thus, a rating isn’t an indicator of talent.


  • For gallery owners, it is profitable to have artists with a market value. Many gallerists will submit an artwork to be sold at auction, in order to obtain a rate, making sure to have its price rocket by inviting everyone in their address books.


  • Some collectors, that have at least 10 artworks of one same artist, go to auctions where artworks from that same artist are being sold, to help raise the price, or even buy the artwork themselves. In doing so, they increase the artist’s market value…and, in turn, the value of the 10 artworks they possess. Do you see the multiplying factor here ? Not to mention when several collectors of the same artist decide get together…


Now you understand why for an artist entering a private collection, it is like taking an escalator; he or she only needs to take the first step !


The market rate isn’t a reliable indicator of the relationship between supply and demand, and even less of talent, but rather an index of speculation, withal manipulated. Luckily, there are still collectors who buy out of love for art and gallery owners that sell Beauty, rather than financial products.


Marcel Duchamp once used to say “fine taste is Art’s worse enemy”; I say that the art market value is Emotion’s worse enemy, emotion being art’s primary vocation. Because it values an artist, artificially, not because of Beauty. Because Art has become an investment. This wards off art novices from buying an artwork they like and will ask “is this artist rated on the art market ?”, instead of listening to their heart and emotions. 


Article published by LJ Art Traffik