Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Why Artworks are like People

Our readings last week alluded to some of the differences between targeting audiences of performance and visual arts. What really intrigued me was the valuation of art. People spend higher amounts for original art pieces and fund organizations to show original pieces in their galleries. The authenticity is key for visual arts. This article explores this notion further proposing (visual) artworks are like people. “Art objects are…physical extensions of their creators.” In the interest of cognitive science, students at the Yale School of Management along with two professors developed the research question: how is valuation of art determined based on how people understand identity continuity?

The study became a look at human essence, and how much of it is actually a part of the piece. The relevance of an artist’s essence in their artwork seemed to be an essential factor in assuring there was value over time in the piece. This is why perhaps hundreds of years after the artist is gone or without knowing who the artist was in the first place we have an appreciation and give value to the work. It is interesting to think about from a detached, cognitive perspective. Also to consider the question the author poses at the end of this article of conducting the study with less tangible extensions such as performances and concepts.

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3 comments on “Why Artworks are like People

  1. gormleykimberly
    October 2, 2014

    This was a great read that got me thinking about the different ways I think of forgeries and duplicates.

    With a duplicate or reproduction, I ascribe less value to the piece. Some of the awe from viewing a piece of artwork I could never hope to replicate is diminished when I see a reproduction or duplicate. The mystery and admiration is gone. The magic is gone! With a forgery however, there is a certain appeal to the object or artwork at hand. Its fascinating to see something so good it could fool someone else into believing its authenticity.

    Whats the difference between a forgery and a reproduction? Nothing really besides a dose of honesty. I would be interested to see how this translates to museum collections. Are reproductions or heavily restored pieces called out prominently, or is their provenance left to fine print, to preserve that magical moment we all seek in a museum, when you come face to face with the real thing?

  2. trishayoung
    October 3, 2014

    It’s interesting when considering duplicates because with duplicates it’s not that you are valuing the duplicate itself but the memory, emotions, and connection you feel with the original piece of art. Like a photo of a loved one.

  3. yaoge2016
    October 3, 2014

    The result of the survey make sense to me, suggesting “a difference in how we view objects deemed ‘art’ versus all others, and a lingering belief in the importance of the hand of the artist”. People value the creating process of arts, which contains inspiration, efforts, and sometimes struggling. The duplicates from others just look identical, but they don’t have elements described above, so people view them as lower value. However, we shouldn’t overlook the function of those duplicates, for they connect the original ones (which might be destroyed) with audience, and make the intangible become tangible.

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