The Value of Shared Art vs. Owned Art

Some art is clearly meant for sharing.  It’s found on building walls, along roadways, in public parks and gardens, even in places it was never meant to be, like tunnel walls and the sides of train cars.

Some art is created to be owned.  It’s meant to be sold, because that’s how the person who creates it sustains themselves.  Whoever pays for that art helps buy the artist who created it food and shelter and the tools to keep making art – and sometimes a lot more besides (how and why that money gets shared with others is a different discussion, I think).

Some shared art is paid for – by building owners, by governments, by funding groups, by business groups.  Sometimes the intent is clearly to help an artist share their work; other times the reputation of the artist is a large part of the motivation.

Art in museums might be considered shared art.  It has the disadvantage that it will be seen by fewer people than art outdoors or in public places, but at least it is there for those who want to and choose to see it.  Art is shared with those when artists exhibit in shows and private galleries, usually for a short time and with the hope that it will find an owner.  And whoever owns it will have a say in who else will get to see it.

The internet is another place where many share their art – or rather the best representation they can produce of the complexity, depth of color and texture of the original piece.  Some share freely; others with the stipulation that the image be used only for personal enjoyment.

I enjoy shared art.  I visit museums and galleries when I can.  I browse the internet to see what others are doing.  When I am out and about, I like to take the time to see the art around me – officially sanctioned or otherwise.  Sometimes when I stop to look, someone else will as well.  I notice that most of the time I don’t see many others doing the same thing (though I suppose if someone identified a Banksy creation that would be different).

Which makes me wonder about how most people see shared art (when they see it).   Is shared art seen as less valuable than owned art, simply because it is shared and accessible?

Does a work of art become perceived as more valuable because fewer people have access to it?

Dartmouth Walkway Shared_Public Art

Shared art on the harbour walk in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

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