Pricing Colour Intensity in Contemporary Art
Rachel A. J. Pownall
Colours affect us in different ways. From the psychology and marketing literature we know that colours have an a ect on us and infuence our decision making process. However, little is known about how colours and the intensity of colour drive prices observed in auction markets for art. Using a unique set of data for Contemporary artworks, which include Warhol prints which in some cases di er only by their combination of colours, we are able to observe the infuence of colour and intensity using RGB values and luminosity as explanatory variables on prices achieved at auction. Controlling for other hedonic characteristics, empirical results and signifcant evidence of darker colours carrying a premium than equivalent artworks which are less intense in colour.
1 IntroductionAnd via the SSRN:
Sensational prices achieved recently at Contemporary Evening auction sales for Andy Warhol's artworks have hit the headlines. In 2007 his Green Car Crash sold for an auction record price of $71.72 million dollars, only to be superseded by his Silver Car Crash, selling in November 2013, for $104.5 million dollars. His iconic vivid images have reached sensational prices, but to what extent is it the color whose sensualness a ects us and drives the prices reached at auction? Fashion, tastes and fads play a role. In this paper we use prices of Warhol paintings which appeared at auction during 2012 such that we can focus on the current market for Warhol's artworks, and determine which colors, and their corresponding intensity, are currently favoured in the art auction market.
During the 1950s Pop Art emerged in the US and Andy Warhol was a leading artist in this movement. He used nonrepresentational colour and form to convey different sensations. In the 1960s he created, amongst other work, a large number of `mass-produced' silkscreen images. He often focused on a number of iconic celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao, and Elizabeth Taylor for his artworks. Many of these prints belonged to a number of limited editions and hence has the advantage that they can be compared to each other at different times of sale, and also can be compared to other artworks of the same image, but which differ only in their use of color. This begs the research question as to how much prices for these contemporary artworks differ between these various color editions, and which colours and intensity attract a higher price?
Little is known about the value or premium that individuals put on the color of artworks. Roger de Piles (1673) set about ranking artworks according to a number of attributes, one of them being color...MORE (25 page PDF)
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Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa
July 9, 2015
We emphasize that color composition is an important characteristic of a painting. It impacts the auction price of a painting but it has never been considered in previous studies on art markets. By using Picasso's paintings, we demonstrate the method to analyze color compositions. In the case of Picasso's paintings sold at Chrisite's and Sotheby's auctions between 1998 and 2014 in New York, our econometric analysis shows that [controlling for all conventional painting and sale characteristics] some colors are associated with high prices. We also find that contrastive paintings (defined as works with colors that are distant from each other in the RGB color space) get high prices. We also analyse the works of Color Field Abstract Expressionists and find that, in the case of this school, the more distant the work's color composition is from the black/gray spectrum, the higher work's market price.