Why Does Bad Art Sell For So Much?

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

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Have you ever stopped and looked at an art piece and wondered how it got to where it is? I mean, I get it. Art is subjective; everyone has their own tastes and what not; but if you really look at some of this art, both modern and classic pieces alike, you can't help but wonder how on earth they sell for the prices that they do.

And while there are a lot of theories out there to explain why certain artists or paintings sell at a record price, there's just not one uniform answer. Let's explore some of the more popular “bad art” and consider why these art forms are raking in the cash.

Are you a good artist if you make bad art? One of the first things that come to mind when you talk about bad art is just how subjective it is. For example, what one person considers as “bad art” might be considered as “good art” by someone else. In fact, it might even be an important or famous piece of work to some people. If you want to sell your art, understanding why “bad” art sells is important.

Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is defined as any art that was made within the last century. A lot of contemporary art is based on what's popular at one time or another. This means that there are times when certain pieces sell for millions of dollars because they portray a part of society's current feelings or desires.

For example, consider Banksy, an underground British street artist who generally creates pieces in real-life locations. His “true” identity is mysterious, and his pieces – the ones that are sellable – have sold for a lot of money. Banksy is one of the most popular contemporary artists out there.

Some people actively hate his art. I think it's pretty cool, but I'm not sure that I would rank his art among the best in the world. He's a good artist. But is he worth that much? The market says, yes.

Painting of giraffe

Abstract Art

Abstract art is defined as art that is non-figurative or art that does not represent a person, place, thing, or idea. Abstract Art has been in the art world since the early 20th century and it brings up a lot of debate in terms of what's “good” and what's “bad.” People will either call this type of art ridiculous or brilliant. The medium for abstract art is very often painting, but occasionally, sculpture or other 3D mediums.

Abstract art is the most common form of art subject to “bad” art accusations. These arts are easy to create and hard to understand.

Multicolored abstract painting

Ridiculous Paintings

I have a soft spot in my hard hard heart for absurdist art. I love paintings that make me pause and figure out (a) what the heck I'm looking at and (b) why I love it so much.

My favorite ridiculous painting is anything with absurd combinations. This ideal painting has it all: political figures, naked figures, and a dog eating spaghetti off of some dude's face. I'd pay good money for it.

vintage, poster, ad

Does Good Art Sell, Too?

Of course good art sells. We're not here to bash good art and excellent paintings – just the “bad” ones. History shows us that good art can last generations in museums.

Many Factors Influence Painting Value

The moment in time, your creativity, and the ability to connect to your audience will all influence how much your painting sells for.

But time and creativity aren't everything. Your ability to connect with your audience – that is, the people who will pay for your art – also matters. If you can make a connection between yourself and artistic types of all kinds, you'll have a much easier time making money from bad paintings.

Distinguish Your Art From The Rest

Perhaps the most important influence on your painting's value is how it is distinguished from other artists who do similar work. If you're a modern artist and no one does anything like you? Chances are, you'll stand out with your painting or artwork.

Standing Out To Art Critics

Finally, and this is key, standing out to critics is the number one way to sell your good art. Like it or not, critics know people in the art world who have a lot of money, so creating value for them is going to pay dividends to you, regardless of the medium that you work in.

So, use your website to showcase your created works; expression, and creative thinking. In course of due time, you too will leave an impact on this world.

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