Is Art a Commodity? - Art as a Commodity

      Some look at Art as just another collectable, like old movies posters or comic books. But they couldn't be more wrong, the art market as been around for 100s of years. And through the years, art has established itself as a commodity. Art investing is a thing, more today than ever. 

    Art is a commodity, Artist like Picasso, Warhol, Monet, Damien Hirst and more have become blue chip names in the art market. Similar to blue chip stocks in the stock market, blue chip art has a reputation for quality, reliability, and the ability to continue to retain its value during economic bad times. 

    If even Warhol had been prescient, he could not have foreseen how quickly money would infiltrate the art world and turn high-end art into a money-centred industry, regardless of the quality of the work itself.

    By abolishing the definition of "art" and recognizing and accepting it as a product of money and not as art per se, a work of art can be created. Art has a different theory of time and space, with art replacing and reinforcing each other and many of these different theories becoming dysfunctional. 


Still Life with Lemon & Glass - Roy Lichtenstein 

     Art lives not from similarities, but from the differences that characterize ordinary objects. The question as to why there are similar objects on the market and why not raises the question: "Why is this art or is it just a real thing? What we call what we like and what we have in common is that we are able to create a story about the artist and his work. 


Sleepless Night Sitting - Yoshitomo Nara

   Some critics believe that the prices on the art market are outrageous, and some, including the Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones, have questioned whether it is really a painting, a masterpiece or not.

    It is not that paintings are overvalued; if anything, they are undervalued because they are sold to undeserving buyers for a nine-figure sum. But art is a commodity, not a product of a particular market, or even a form of art itself. 

    There is no doubt that art is big business, and the art that drives it has shown truly incredible growth and evolved into a new asset class that has produced an incredible amount of wealth, not only for artists but also for society as a whole. The "Great Contemporary Art Bubble" is the result of a select group of individuals who have created a massive, multi-billion dollar art market over the past decade.


    If you'd like to explore how to invest into fine art, check out our Buying Guide

    This is due to the fact that new buyers of contemporary art come from outside the business world. As a result, the art world has been used by a new generation of wealthy, high-tech, and multi-billion-dollar corporations. They make money not only from the sale of art, but also from their investments in art. 


The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

by: Damien Hirst

    This sculpture/installation by Hirst sold to an anonymous fund manager for $10 Million dollars 

What is commodity art?

 Art is a commodity, just as pens, wheat, computers, and cars are commodities, but it is not in the sense that all commodities are. Historically, there was a market for products that could be sold and exchanged in a market, as well as for the production of art.

    Artistic production is seen as an idealized notion of unlamented labor, and this is a work of labor, a "work of the like." Works of art are distinguished by the fact that they are a collection of works (novels, films, records, etc.) that circulate in mass production and make aesthetic claims.

    In a society that appears to be an immense accumulation and commodity, Marx borrows from the idea of "commodity production" and the "collective production" of goods and services, as well as from his own experience.

     Although there have been astronomical prices for art for decades, it has been commodified by business opportunists, with dealers seeing art only as a means to profit. Investors are also doing the same, looking at art just as other commodities, such as gold, crude oil, and gas. Over the years many investors have adapted to look at art as a commodity.



by: Claude Monet 

    This painting by famous french painter Claude Monet, sold for $110.7 Million Dollars at auction house Sotheby's in New York

A Commodity or Just Art?  

     In this new world, the global art trade is likely to grow exponentially as more institutions participate. Dafen, for example, houses more than 1,200 galleries crammed into less than a square kilometre in densely packed suburban blocks. Galleries, museums are popping up all over the world. 

    The younger millennial generation seems to be getting in the market as well. In the digital era we live in nowadays, it's just THAT much easier to learn and discover the art market.

    It seems that art today is valued more than ever, drawing attention to the political and social motivations behind it. The pressure to adapt to a particular lifestyle in order to thrive in an art community is what makes the commodification of art so attractive to so many people and has led to its rapid growth in recent decades.

    The art world will be open to subsidies because people do not have the resources to spend hundreds of millions or even thousands of dollars buying a single painting. Rather, we can build on other commercialized works of art that buy shares. It also means that people are able to spend money buying share on blue chip art. Masterworks does a filing on each piece of blue chip art through the SEC, in order to sell shares for each art painting. A new way to invest into art. 

Check out Masterworks


This David Hockney was purchased for $666.8K - Sold for $10.4M on Masterworks


CHECK OUT OUR GUIDE ON: How The Art Market Works 


Cited Sources
Art Commodity Art Market Blue Chip Art Investing In Art

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