I’m most annoyed as an art appreciator when an artist has become so famous that just authorship matters and we stop editing the art itself—just because a famous artist made something does not make it either art or good. Likewise, finding out a “priceless” famous-named artwork is in fact not by the famous name does not make that piece inherently bad.

Quoting part of a previous post because I just got the push to go into this further. A recent Online Photographer post pointed me toward a fantastic article in The Atlantic about photography and vintage Lewis Hine print forgery.

The Royal College of Art runs an interesting exhibition each year where they display, and then sell, thousands of postcards created by different artists. The artist signs the back of the postcard so the author is only discovered after the card is purchased for £45. Only then does the value (monetary and artistic) change. Authorship shouldn’t matter this much. But it does.

Photography is even more bizarre. It’s not just about who took the photo, it’s about who printed it and when. None of which has to do with the actual quality of the piece. In fact, the driving force to the investigation into the non-vintage “vintage” prints purchased the prints originally because they were the best-available prints on the market.

There hadn’t been a body of beautiful prints like these. The market needed them. We thought they were amazing.

To me, those are the reasons why anyone should buy art. There’s nothing about value or reselling. It should all be about the quality of the work and the purchaser’s reaction to it. Leave the value out of it and go with what you like.

I suspect the problem here is that most people lack taste and so they end up using a different metric for what they should buy and own. And for better or for worse, that metric is monetary value.

If you’re buying art because of who made it or what it’s worth, you’re not curating your collection with artistic intent. Museums do not curate their collections based on the market value of their pieces and unless they’re doing a retrospective in order to show an artist’s growth/process/evolution, it’s not about grouping everything an artist has ever done.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

One thought on “Value”

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: