Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Price of Everything

"The Price of Everything" is the title of a new book by Eduardo Porter, mentioned in an article in today's Globe and Mail.Mr. Porter says that paying a high price for something actually stimulates the brain. He says, "The price is a signal about you, not about the thing. When you pay something for something you're sending a signal about the quality of person that you are. About the resources at your command." Interesting when you think about the story I've told before about the man in a gallery who was set to buy a painting and had his check-book out - only when he found it was $2,000 and not $20,000, he didn't want it. ...and, yet, a lot of people think art prices are a way too high when they might be $500 for a painting. I guess it depends on the market. Recently, a fellow artist admonished some reasonably well-to-do people that she knew who were complaining about an artist's prices. She told them that they didn't question $70 an hour for a car mechanic, so why should the artist be working for low wages? Another factor, rarely considered is that a gallery takes 50% for their expenses. However, the artist has paid for materials and often framing, so actually ends up with slightly less. Maybe we need to somehow suggest that buying a painting "sends a signal about the quality of person you are." Or - like the advertisement for a Park Avenue gallery I saw recently, "Nothing Enhances the Beauty of Your Home Like Art." Have a cup of tea and consider... the painting is of a copper kettle I don't use but keep by the fireplace. It was hand-made in the old B.C. Penitentiary, bought by a guard and given as a wedding present to my parents.

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