What Makes Art Valuable?

Today, many people are interested in collecting art. Art collectors can collect anything from any time period. They can also specialize in one particular type of art like paintings, sculptures, photographs, etc.

Many museums all over the world contain collections of art. These museums include the Louvre Museum in Paris, France; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, U.S.; the National Gallery in London, England; the Guggenheim Museums in Bilbao, Spain; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain; the Royal Academy of Arts in London, England; and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Many people who own art are very proud of their collection. Some people even display their art in public places. For example, some people hang their art in their living rooms or offices.

Some people think that art should only be displayed in museums. Others feel that art belongs anywhere where there is space. Still others believe that art belongs wherever it is appreciated.

We believe that art should be displayed in as many places as possible. However, you might be wondering – what is it that makes art valuable? What distinguishes one piece of art from another? 

Well this article will tell you exactly that and we’ll explain just why one work of art is more valuable than another. 

How Does Art Become Valuable?

Art is a form of expression that dates back thousands of years. The oldest known pieces of art date back to around 3500 BC. Today, art is considered to be a major part of our culture.

So what makes some art more valuable than others? Why do some works of art go for millions of dollars and some for only a few thousand? 

Let’s look at some of the most expensive art sales ever made and see if you can spot what the common factor is. 

One of the most expensive pieces of artworks sold recently was “Christ Church Cranbrook” by artist Andy Warhol. It sold for $58 million dollars and was created in 1987. 

A work by Picasso called “Le Rêve (The Dream)” was auctioned off at Sotheby’s on May 25th, 2008. This piece brought in about $106 million dollars.

In 2007, an oil painting entitled “Portrait of a Young Man Wearing Glasses” by Vincent van Gogh sold at Christie’s for $82.5 million dollars. That same year, another Van Gogh oil painting went up for sale at Sotheby‘s. The painting was entitled “View of the Sea at Scheveningen” and sold for $80 million dollars.

In 2006, a painting entitled “Girl with Green Eyes” by Pablo Picasso sold at Sotheby’s for $179 million dollars. In 2004, another famous piece of art was sold at Sotheby’s for $142 million dollars. The painting was entitled “Salvador Dalí: Portrait de Salvador Dalí.”

Can you see it? All the artworks sold were made by incredibly famous artists. Fame is one of the deciding factors for why art sells. If a piece of art has a discernible name attached to it then it is more likely to sell for a lot of money because it was painted or sculpted by that artist. 

Artists of course get their fame because of the quality of their work. Artists like Dali, Picasso and others became famous because their artwork was truly unique and showed something that no other artists had ever accomplished. 

So the answer as to what makes art valuable is that it is a mixture of several things – the condition of the art and how close it is to when it was originally painted; the quality of the artwork, in other words is it a true masterpiece and who painted it. 

These central factors are crucial to an artwork being judged to be valuable or not. Let’s now turn to discussing different artists styles that exist. 

What Makes Art Valuable

Different Types Of Artists Styles

Given that there are so many types of artwork out there, there are also many types of art styles. Let’s break down some of the most famous so you can recognize them if you ever come across them: 


This is a very broad category but Renaissance paintings date from the 14th and 15th centuries and are usually painted with oil on canvas. 

Often Renaissance art depicts scenes either from the Bible or from Classical Mythology and often with scant regard for nudity!


Impressionist art doesn’t seek to mimic others; we aren’t talking about artwork done by the cast of SNL!

No, impressionist art seeks to impress upon the viewer an accurate impression of the landscape and light that the painter is trying to depict. Impressionist art originates in France during the 19th century and is popular amongst those who like softer and more languid work. 


Expressionist art is the opposite of impressionist art – rather than focusing on the external impression of a place, expressionist art wanted to allow the artist to properly express how they felt and what they had in their heart. 

One of the most famous expressionist artists was Picasso. 

Final Thoughts

Art is one of the most exciting forms of human expression that you can come across. It is by far and away one of the easiest and yet most complex forms of human achievement that is hard to properly describe. How can we truly define valuable art? Is it after all not subjective? 

A piece of art may be worth millions of dollars on the market compared to another piece of art but if that second piece is close to someone’s heart how can we truly judge it to be worthless? 

We know that the world of art is complicated and difficult to understand if you are a beginner. However, you should change that as soon as you can. Art truly is one of the most excellent forms of human expression and that is why you should do all you can to understand it. 

So, if you have ever felt as if you don’t know enough about art then go out there and learn all you can because you won’t regret it. 

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