The Value of Exhibitions and Publications

Among the various factors one details when cataloging a work of art (or recording its pertinent details) are (a) the work’s exhibition history and (b) its appearance in literature.

Exhibition history tells where and when a particular work of art has been publicly exhibited. Oftentimes savvy collectors and dealers offer to lend their works to upcoming shows at museums or prestigious galleries in order to develop such an exhibition history for the work, and they also often agree to led their works when approached by museums. It is typically an honor to have a work accepted by a museum to be included in a show of other museum-quality pieces as curators typically only accept the best examples of an artist’s work for their exhibitions. This type of exhibition often leads to a prestigious heritage for the work of art and may increase its value and notoriety which could impact its future sales price. In addition to the monetary value of such exhibitions, there is also an intellectual value in being one of the chosen works by an artist which is used to represent that artist’s oeuvre; this value is harder to measure or quantify but is nonetheless important to the history of a particular work of art and important to eh scholarly community who may look to the exhibited work of art to learn about a particular artist, period or culture.

Documenting the publications or literature in which the work of art has appeared is another important factor in detailing the history of the artwork. There are some publications which are more appropriate for historical material (such as a catalogue raissone or a scholarly journal) and others which are more valuable for contemporary works of art (such as cutting-edge art magazines or exhibition catalogues and publications dedicated to identifying up and coming artists) though all mentions of a work of art in print will be included in cataloging it. It generally helps the value of a work of art to have it written up or pictured in a major publication about the artist, so many collectors will give permission for their work to be included in a book or article. Such literary mentions or inclusions also add to the body of scholarly material available to the world and give the public access to works of art which might otherwise be hidden away in private collections for the value of a select few.

Inclusion in both major exhibitions as well as publications increase the historical value and the cache of a piece and often its market value. Such participation also often gives the public access to privately-owned works of art. Art historians thus document the work’s inclusion in exhibitions and literature as a way of recording the work’s movements over time.