Art appraisal – A unique art for a unique world

Vincent Van Gogh out of his nine hundred paintings and more than thousand drawings could only sell his artworks in single digits. It is a quite fascinating fact that without proper recognition and the mind if unable to reach the canvas, a “what would have been a” historical masterpiece would just end up in a trash can or burnt in fury. Fortunately, those days are gone and any work of art can be considered for an art appraisal and get its value.  Whether an artist is looking for appreciation or seller looking for a price or a buyer seeking precise value getting an appraised is the right way to go. However, one must learn what the process is and what makes a good appraisal and what does not.

Appraisal methods

The world of arts operates in different ways and there are many methods through which one can get their art or collection appraised. The following are two standard procedures one can think of and are quite useful.


This is often limited to the artists and collectors who acquired genuine expertise in the field. Pragmatic approach and comparative approach can be used while thinking of self-appraisal.

In pragmatic approach, an artist needs to have every detail ready like time spent on the work(s), money spent to create the work(s) and the complexity. Depending on these factors one has to create an estimation of the price per work and deal with galleries commission too. Then there is comparison to similar art in the market.

In comparative approach, an artist needs to look at contemporary market and how his/her style of paintings is selling. There are multiple factors to consider like experience of the artist, explosive nature of the work, location of the artist and work, interest shown by buyers, etc.

For a start, after completing an art appraisal, keep the prices steady wherever the works are displayed. This will help gain trust from the market and buyers. As a result, there could be returning buyers who are willing to offer more and make the artist popular.

Professional appraisal

Many artists and collectors show interest in getting their art appraised by professionals because they can help in tax determination while gifting an art, proper sales pitch, restoration if needed, acquiring finance through art and helping to insure the art itself.

Before transporting to a gallery (which should be done with utmost care and caution) an appraiser will determine the value of an artwork based on the history of the artist, previous exhibition experience, importance of an artist (deceased) and art during his/her era, subject of the art, condition of the work, data required to call a work legitimate, need of restoration and current market trends.  Note that an appraiser may take weeks to months before coming to a conclusion and the artist or collector should not hurry the person to make a decision, it is not that easy. Look for an appraiser who has expertise and formal education in the form of art found in the subject.

art appraisal

An artist by the name Gerhard Richter’s work “The blood-red mirror” was sold for $1.1 million and there is nothing in the work to suggest its genius. It is a plain gradient of red and one could only imagine how the artist would have felt that such work fetched a million. This is a fine example of an appraiser suggesting a fine gallery where people who are interested in abstract art would spend a lot if the work appeases their senses.

Art appraisal – Things that should never be done

  1. The obvious one is not to hurry the appraiser to deduct something. This could be calamitous and the appraisal would be improper.
  2. Art appraisers do not come cheap; so, do not hire someone who claims to do appraisal for quarter the price of a professional.  Do not throw away the appraisal certificate as this would bring down all the efforts to ground zero.
  3. Never overprice the art. If there is a demand for the work the value will look after itself. A $400 estimated work may go for $40000 depending on the quality of the work and interest of the buyer. If the price is stashed at $40000 initially, there might not be a single soul who would be interested to bid on that work.
  4. Transportation hurdles are the most difficult to overcome. Seek professional help while taking work(s) from the collector’s place to a gallery. Never try to take matter into own hands as a simple damage would mean eradicating a masterpiece from the history of art.

There are infinite things that can be included in an art appraisal and artists or collectors should realize that appraisal itself is an own school of art that deserves respect and independence. Letting them work their magic would clearly improve the status of the work. In case of self-appraisal seeking knowledge about professional appraisal would bring definitive results.