Once upon a time, art was purely the preserve of the privaliged few but over the years artists have been working to change that. Perhaps the most famous example was Andy Warhol, closely followed by Banksy.
Since the 60’s galleries have cottoned on to the mass appeal of art- here’s what that means for prices.
Back in the 1950’s, getting a gallery to display your art was not easy. There was a clear distinction between fine art and commercial art- one was the reserve of the elite and one was confined to adverts. By the 1960’s this was starting to change.
Artists like Warhol took their experience as commercial artists and began to apply those principles to fine art. The result was a boom in the markets- people who had previously been excluded were now taking an interest and making purchases.
“I don’t think art should be only for the select few, I think it should be for the mass of the American people.” – Andy Warhol
Far from diluting the market, this new form of art, courting mass appeal, made the originals worth even more. Warhol’s works now regularly sell for millions.
The link is clear- more people feeling that art is “for them” and addressing them directly results in more people buying art, pushing prices upward.
Art On the Streets
Art On The Sheets
With increased demand comes rising prices. Prints, though relatively numerous and accessible, often sell for huge sums of money. Works by Banksy which remain unsigned actually appreciated at a faster rate than those he had marked personally. Art is a consumer market after all and the unsigned were more available for consumption.
Artists with strong mass appeal are often amongst the most collectable with bidding wars breaking out at auction. The rise of the Street Art inspired print, using the techniques most closely associated with graffiti artists highlights this principle.
From an investment point of view, mass appeal artists make a lot of sense. If the time ever comes to cash in your collection, sales are quick, easy and offer the potential for substantial profit. The democratisation of the art world means that there are more people than ever who want what you have.
So, should we harken back to the days when art was for the privileged few? Of course not- no one wins in that scenario. Mass appeal means more art, more people valuing it and better returns for artists and investors.
Long live mass appeal art.