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Color intensity, luminosity, contrast and art prices: the case of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Color intensity, luminosity, contrast and art prices: the case of Jean-Michel Basquiat The price of a painting is determined by multiple variables, including color-related variables. Colors are important in an economic analysis. This study aims to analyze the paintings executed by Jean-Michel Basquiat (the famous street artist from the 1980s' New York City) and sold at auction to study the potential effect of color intensity, luminosity and color contrast on the prices of his paintings. The authors also study the case of the op art master, Carlos Cruz-Diez, as a robustness analysis to the main results. The analysis that the authors present may be of interest to academicians and to participants in the art market.Design/methodology/approachThe authors run a hedonic regression model considering 306 paintings (executed by Basquiat alone), and 41 works painted collaboratively between Basquiat and Warhol and sold at auction (2003–2017). The data and the images corresponding to each painting were hand-collected from the websites of several auction houses and complemented with information obtained from the Artprice and Blouin websites.FindingsIncreases in color intensity, luminosity and color contrast have a positive effect on art prices. The authors also find that color intensity is even more recognized (as reflected by higher prices) for paintings belonging to Basquiat's most appreciated (understood as most expensive) artistic period (1980–1983) and during the second part of the sample period (2011–2017). The authors find similar results for Cruz-Diez. The authors also estimate that Basquiat's artworks made collaboratively with Andy Warhol are worth 55% less than those made only by Basquiat. An investment in Basquiat's paintings generated an average annual compounded return of 16.81% (2003–2017), clearly overperforming the S&P 500.Research limitations/implicationsThe main limitation of the hedonic regression method lies in the need to have a significant and varied sample to identify the true effect of each variable on the price of the good. Another limitation is that we are only able to use art prices from auctions, as this is the only comprehensive source of data that is publicly available. These two limitations are common to all studies that use the hedonic pricing model. This paper has implications not only for the art pricing (and more generally, asset pricing) literature, but also for the fields of psychology and marketing.Originality/valueThis is the first paper that highlights the importance of analyzing the price impact of color intensity throughout the artistic periods of a painter, finding that color intensity is even more appreciated (as reflected by higher prices) for paintings belonging to an artist's most recognized period. In the case of color contrast, the authors present a novel way to estimate this variable. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administración Emerald Publishing

Color intensity, luminosity, contrast and art prices: the case of Jean-Michel Basquiat

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1012-8255
DOI
10.1108/arla-05-2021-0110
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The price of a painting is determined by multiple variables, including color-related variables. Colors are important in an economic analysis. This study aims to analyze the paintings executed by Jean-Michel Basquiat (the famous street artist from the 1980s' New York City) and sold at auction to study the potential effect of color intensity, luminosity and color contrast on the prices of his paintings. The authors also study the case of the op art master, Carlos Cruz-Diez, as a robustness analysis to the main results. The analysis that the authors present may be of interest to academicians and to participants in the art market.Design/methodology/approachThe authors run a hedonic regression model considering 306 paintings (executed by Basquiat alone), and 41 works painted collaboratively between Basquiat and Warhol and sold at auction (2003–2017). The data and the images corresponding to each painting were hand-collected from the websites of several auction houses and complemented with information obtained from the Artprice and Blouin websites.FindingsIncreases in color intensity, luminosity and color contrast have a positive effect on art prices. The authors also find that color intensity is even more recognized (as reflected by higher prices) for paintings belonging to Basquiat's most appreciated (understood as most expensive) artistic period (1980–1983) and during the second part of the sample period (2011–2017). The authors find similar results for Cruz-Diez. The authors also estimate that Basquiat's artworks made collaboratively with Andy Warhol are worth 55% less than those made only by Basquiat. An investment in Basquiat's paintings generated an average annual compounded return of 16.81% (2003–2017), clearly overperforming the S&P 500.Research limitations/implicationsThe main limitation of the hedonic regression method lies in the need to have a significant and varied sample to identify the true effect of each variable on the price of the good. Another limitation is that we are only able to use art prices from auctions, as this is the only comprehensive source of data that is publicly available. These two limitations are common to all studies that use the hedonic pricing model. This paper has implications not only for the art pricing (and more generally, asset pricing) literature, but also for the fields of psychology and marketing.Originality/valueThis is the first paper that highlights the importance of analyzing the price impact of color intensity throughout the artistic periods of a painter, finding that color intensity is even more appreciated (as reflected by higher prices) for paintings belonging to an artist's most recognized period. In the case of color contrast, the authors present a novel way to estimate this variable.

Journal

Academia Revista Latinoamericana de AdministraciónEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 16, 2022

Keywords: Alternative investments; Basquiat; Art returns; RGB; Lab; Grayscale; Inversiones alternativas; Basquiat; Rendimientos del arte; RGB; Lab; Escala de grises; G10; G11; and G12

References