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Is it art? How does being art impact value?
Posted 14 Feb 2013, by Don
A key to the assessment of good, better, best is the answer to the question:  "Is it art"?  Art can be a painting or sculpture, yet it can also be furniture, a paint decorated box, a bowl, a candlestick, textiles, etc.  Take for example the valuables cupboard on my website.  Is it art?  My response is a resounding yes.  The maker did not have to embellish the door with the swan's neck, it was carved by hand and took considerable time and skill to fashion.  The swan's neck did not add at all to the utility of the chest (it would lock just fine whether it had a split pediment or not).  Yet look what that swan's neck accomplished.  It provides a light and graceful end point as one's eye rises from bottom to top, it provides a negative space to view the swan's neck in silhouette, and it dramatically builds to the aesthetic of slenderness or "verticle lift", adding about 5.5 inches of height to the piece above the box.  If one just adds 5.5 inches of "rectangle", then the verticle would be clumsy and clunky.  If the 5.5 inches is taken away entirely, one is left with just a  box.   Further, the maker positioned the elegant brass pull about 1/3 the distance from the bottom, which provides a visual balance to the swan's neck, and as every photographer who understands the "rule of thirds" knows, that pull is much more appealing to the eye where it is rather than half way up.  Even the little key hole near the bottom is delightfully placed.  Finally, the piece was unified with a thin red paint that gives it a warmth.....There is a simple elegance to this piece that is visually appealing.  Take away the swan's neck and we are left with a still appealing "good" period cupboard.  But the presence of the swan's neck elevates it to art!  Just a guess, yet I would value this cupboard with the swan's neck at about 5X more than without, maybe more.