Art Market Trends: The Value of an Artist’s Early Works
Recent high profile sales of art by some of the worlds most famous artists has re-acquainted me with a trend that often sees works from early on in an artist’s career reach much higher prices than works created later in an artist’s career. This trend is not unique to the art market with early works from authors, musicians, designers, architects and other creative professions often regarded as more significant than later works. There has been much conjecture as to why early works are achieving higher prices but I think that the reasons are quite obvious and quite simple. From my research and analysis, early works often achieve higher prices because:
1. Early works usually signify the period before an artist becomes well known which means that they are at a point in their career where they are usually experimenting and in a constant state of evolution. As artists progress in their career they will often find their “niche” and stick to it which means that the earlier works are often very different and varied making them rarer and more desirable
2. Early works are often associated with the most significant time in an artist’s career which is their transition from a struggling graduate to a flourishing artist.
3. Early works often have a certain purity and rawness that is often regarded as the “true” expressions of an artist as opposed to the polished later works which are the result of practice, progression and experience.
4. If you look at an artist’s body of work from the beginning to the end of their career as a continuing series then as with most series, the earlier works are considered to be more significant because they are the “beginning”.
5. Early works often come with interesting stories and historical references which make them more interesting and more desirable.
6. Works from early on in an artist’s career are often kept by the artist for nostalgic reasons or passed on to museums and are usually very scarce so the early works by famous artists that do come onto the market usually have a certain exclusivity attached to them.
So as you can see it is well worth keeping an eye out for early career works, happy hunting!!
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.