Have you ever wondered how an artist’s work is priced? Or how art’s value is determined? It is a complex process that takes into account several institutional and subjective criteria. Artalistic breaks down the subject of art evaluation.

Determining an artist’s value: Ancient, modern and contemporary art

The field of art is very vast and it is important to keep in mind that an artist or painter's value is partially dependent upon the time period in which it was created. For example, a work of art is not valued in the same way if it is classified as modern art or contemporary art.

For ancient or modern art (first half of the 20th century), a piece of art’s value may change depending which expert or specialist you speak to. Auctions also play a big role in determining an artist’s worth.

As far as contemporary art is concerned, a new artist’s work does not have a value, however its value will be established over time. The galleries and art dealers representing the artists play a pivotal role in determining an emerging artist’s value. The artist can seek advice from an expert who can help them determine the value of their art.

Main criteria

The art world can often seem like a mystifying place, especially when it comes to placing a value on a painter, sculptor, photographer or printmaker's work. However, certain factors contribute to establishing their worth in a fairly objective manner.


An artist's training, age, diplomas, experience, career, significant exhibitions and accolades from competitions juried by a curator or a professional are all major factors that contribute to the determination of an artist’s value.

Contemporary art trade fairs are one of the best ways for an artist to gain recognition. Nearly half (45%) of the art on the market is sold at art trade shows. It can be hard for an emerging artist to gain access to these major events. A young artist may need to attend and show their work at several galleries before being accepted into the big leagues at a major international art trade fair.  

The number of sales and the price of art

The number of sales an artist has had can be very difficult to determine. However, an artist’s value can increase greatly if their work is featured and sold by a reputable auction house.

Puchases made by large institutions

If a national museum, local museum, benefactor or foundation has purchased an artist’s work this can increase its worth.

Artists values and media coverage

An artist’s value is influenced by their popularity, which is established in two ways: the importance of their work in regards to their impact on the history of art and their creativity and ability to create innovative pieces. Nowadays, social media plays a major role in sharing and popularizing an artist’s work.


If a piece of art is considered to be rare it will increase its value. For example a Monet or a work of pop art by David Hockney or Keith Haring will fetch substantial sums compared to that of an emerging artist. The system of supply and demand in the art market helps establish whether or not a piece is rare.

Should you take an artist’s value into account when investing in art?

If you are interested in investing in a work of art, it is advisable to try and separate the notion of aesthetic value from its commercial value, which is influenced by trends in the art world and supply and demand.

Keep in mind that whether or not a piece of art is considered beautiful is completely subjective. A piece of art should bring you joy and pleasure when you look at it. You may see a piece of art as valuable for extremely personal reasons. You may be visually and emotionally drawn to a painting that is not highly valued because an emerging artist created it. Sometimes following your gut about work from emerging artist’s can pay off – they may become the future Picasso! Don't stop at market value; let your emotions define what is valuable.

Signature and date

These criteria can only be of valuable if the artist has established a place for himself or herself in the art world. A well-established artist can be better known for certain periods during their career. The technique and materials used can also have an impact on the value of a piece of art.

We hope that we have clarified some of the criteria used to determine the value of art. Just keep in mind that no strict rules apply and that you should weigh your attraction to a piece of art as heavily as its monetary worth. Feel free to browse our carefully curated collection of contemporary art from emerging and well-established artists, conveniently categorized into paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and limited edition prints. Stay in the know and follow our blog for the latest news from the art world!