Sunday, March 25, 2012
Beauty is a Species of Value
A visitor to my studio stood in front of one of my paintings and sighed, "I wish I could afford that." The painting in question was priced at $3500. The visitor had arrived in a $35,000 automobile. She probably also owned a $2,000 refrigerator, a $3,000 computer, and a house full of unexceptional furniture that she had paid tens of thousands of dollars for. Her vacations which she took at least twice a year probably cost $7,000-10,000 a throw. The question in my mind at the time was "Is she angling for a better price or does she in fact believe her own statement?" So I asked her if the painting became something she owned what would its value be to her compared to everything else she owned? "Oh," She said, "It would be a treasure." "Why so," I asked. "Because it's just so beautiful," she replied. So I took out my pen and wrote another zero behind the $3500 making it $35,000. "There" I said, "That's a more appropriate price for so rare an object. And I challenge you, Madam, to find something so beautiful for a lesser price." Sadly, she lacked the grace to be humored and left in a huff. For my part, I was elated. I don't make art to make money. I make art to make beauty. Currency can change, money can become worthless, but beauty remains a species of value. Long after all the objects owned by this woman have gone to the dump, the car-crusher, the re-cycling bin, the painting will continue to have value, to serve the human sense of beauty.