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Dear Chatelaine's Antiques,
Maybe you could debunk — or confirm — the myth that a painting or a
sculpture automatically increases in value after the artist's death. I
bought this piece several years ago and the artist recently died. I'm
curious to know how much the value of the piece changed, and in general, if value increases after an artist's death?
Just like clothing, art goes in and out of style. Value is often tied to
popularity, which can change at any given time. But whether a particular
artist's work increases in value is only indirectly connected with the
time of their death. It's really all about supply and demand.
Jackson Pollock was very popular during his lifetime. When
he died, all of a sudden there was a limited supply of Pollock paintings.
So even though his work was already selling well, the price went up.
Now take the case of
Willem De Kooning, who died just a few years ago.
Like Pollock he was well recognized while he was alive. However,
collectors were — and still are — more interested in his early works
than any of his later pieces. That means that even while he was alive, de
Kooning's most popular paintings were already in limited supply. By the
time he died, they were already immensely valuable, so his death really
didn't have any effect.
Your painting is a beautiful work by Thomas Kapsalis. He was a well-known
teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He had some regular
shows at galleries in the Chicago area but none of his paintings ever sold
at a public auction. Sorry, Joe, but that means there's not a broad
interest in his work outside of galleries, and it's pretty unlikely the value will increase.
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