How Does One Accurately Put A Price on Art?

How Does One Accurately Put A Price on Art?

I attended the SOFA exhibition and learned about how it sets the standards of the value of art.




Fundamental art

And design.

That's what the acronym SOFA stands for. It is an enormous exhibition that recently celebrated its 25th year of existence at Navy Pier. People from around the world come to display their pieces of artwork like an open market with artists sheltered in their own section with their greatest (and most expensive) pieces of work surrounding them. It's open to the public—both amateurs and other professionals who want a tangible idea as to how far their creations could go. However, from the perspective of an amateur, exploring an exhibition like this was intimidating.

SOFA Exhibition. 2018.Jazmin Aguilar

At SOFA, you see things that are worth more than a used car—maybe even more than that because I stopped looking at the prices after a while. The exhibition was a major beatdown for me because there's a certain level of expertise all these people displayed in their work and looking back at mine again really depleted most of the self-confidence I had tucked away somewhere inside me.

Firstly, they use materials I would never find at Michael's or any other arts and craft store.

In one selection, there was a vase actually carved out of crystal. It was branded with a whopping $18,000 dollar price sticker. I don't know anything about crystal, but I've never seen anything like that vase. How does one get that much crystal and have the steady hands to form it into a vase?

Secondly, these finished pieces are from spontaneous ideas. Who looks at their bathroom and decides, "oh, I should really make a mini scene here", as pictured below? Pursuing these ideas require time and draft pieces—two things art students like myself really struggle with in terms of money and time management.

Small section in Lurie GalleryTaken by Jazmin Aguilar

Entire Piece in Lurie Gallery. Miniature figures interact with lifesize items. Taken by Jazmin Aguilar

I guess if you really believe in something, anything you do really makes itself in the end.

The value of some pieces was pretty upsetting, according to my professor the next day during class. I thought the prices were appalling but somewhat valid because of the time it would take to finish the piece and the quality of the material. Looking back on it though, I did recall some pieces that were worth hundreds and looked like they were made of plastic.

Plastic is not worth a lot, and it really isn't worth enough to put any influence on our feelings. Kids get toys made of plastic for $10 and it manages to shoot darts. After a month, it's stashed in a bin—it was only great for a moment.

Art is subjective, we can all agree on that, but if the material price doesn't accurately match the value of the item, what is that artist really doing? Art is personal as it is the beholder of the artist's dreams and fault. How can they put a price on channeling simple human emotions?

Some people become artists for one great masterpiece and then everything else they make only has value because of their name. It's true. Have you ever gotten angry looking at a painting with three black lines on it? Artwork like that exists.

I ran into another set of work that displayed jewelry at the event. Many of the pieces were very beautiful and intricate, made of all kinds of material. My eyes fell to a pair of dangling earrings. They looked like plastic squares covered and dabbed with layers of other colored rectangular pieces. They looked like jewelry you'd find at Burlington in the kid's section. It was so off-putting because everything else looked so nice and pretty and then there was that, all sitting around the same price.

I can't stop anyone from spending money on art and I can't change someone's sense of style. Nevertheless, exhibitions make me feel content. Knowing people can make big bucks from their love of art is exciting, and it gives me hope for the future for myself. The people I saw and met managed to get a unit in an international exhibition and, if they were lucky, sell their pieces. They put in the hard work and in reality, an art student is in no position to have a say about the price of art. Not yet.

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10 Reasons Why Frida Kahlo is Iconic

A spotlight for a woman deserving of it

Frida Kahlo de Rivera was an artist born in 1907 in the city of Coyoacán, Mexico. She is celebrated for her work, primarily self portraits, which boasted originality with every stroke. Kahlo expressed her deep rooted Mexican and indigenous culture in every single piece of hers. Recognizable by her bold eyebrows and her eccentric attitude, Frida Kahlo is the artist to know.

1. Frida Kahlo defied society's beauty standards

Frida Kahlo was radical in every sense of the word. She took it upon herself to purposely darken her facial hair as a statement. Kahlo didn't care to fit with the norm, she subverted to the concept of femininity and the idea that beauty meant having only Euro-centric features.

2. Frida Kahlo was un-apologetically bisexual

Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas, c.1950 - Musetouch Visual Arts Magazine

Kahlo ventured into different parts of herself quite often. In her time, women weren't accepted as being individuals who could be fluid with their sexuality. Of course, Frida Kahlo didn't care to subject to such restrictions. She said to have had a lot of lovers including Josephine Baker, Dolores del Rio, Paulette Goddard and Maria Felix as well as the prestige American painter, Georgia O'Keeffe.

3. She had exotic animals as pets

Frida Kahlo and her pet deer, Granizo, 1939, photograph by Nickolas Muray

The artist incorporated her animals in many of her portraits. She owned a spider monkey, a fawn, birds, and a dogs throughout her lifetime.

4. Her artwork is extremely genuine and raw

The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo (1939)
Frida Kahlo suffered from a lot of pain and downfalls due to a bus accident she was involved in as a young girl. It resulted in a severe spine condition and a lot of time laying in bed immobile. She painted as a pastime and deeply channeled her roots and hardships. The painting above showcases her internal thoughts after having suffered several miscarriages due to her physical condition.

5. She never cared for gender roles

Sometimes the abstract artist cross-dressed as a political statement. "She dressed like boy with shaved hair, pants, boots, and a leather jacket" in attempt to create an eye-catching attraction that's hard to miss.

6. Kahlo survived an accident that should've killed her

Frida Kahlo after an operation, 1946

Although Frida suffered a lot, she endured that pain until her late 40's. Frida Kahlo was involved in a bus accident that ending up essentially ruining her spine, because of the lack of proper procedures and medical equipment at the time. She was diagnosed with scoliosis, and she had consistent problems with her hips and knees. Kahlo spent a lot of time in a wheelchair or on bed rest where she created some of her best work.

7. She looked to herself for inspiration

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird by Frida Kahlo (1940)

Frida Kahlo stated “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” She looked to herself to create beauty out of the abyss she found herself in.

8. She lived in a blue house

What is now The Frida Kahlo Museum was once Frida Kahlo's family home in Mexico City. It was nicknamed "La Casa Azul" or "The Blue House" because of it's beautiful vibrant shade of blue. Frida spent the majority of her life in that house, and so personal objects are left in their place as a look into her personal life.

9. Her long-term spouse was another artist

Although Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo had a rough marriage, she loved him deeply. Kahlo was found herself separating from Rivera only to unite once more. She wrote about him and painted about him. One of her journal entries includes "I love you more than my own skin and even though you don’t love me the same way, you love me anyways, don’t you? And if you don’t, I’ll always have the hope that you do, and i’m satisfied with that. Love me a little. I adore you.” He wasn't good for her, and she was aware, but ultimately that didn't seem to matter.

10. Frida Kahlo de Rivera is unlike any other artist

Frida Kahlo with a Portrait of Her Father

Frida Kahlo is truly remarkable. She acknowledged her insecurities and her flaws, and she created life and beauty out of them.There will never be an artist with such imperfect grace or original distinction.

Cover Image Credit: Lucienne Bloch

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