Tag Archive: Investing

The evolution of art and its value to society

The creation of art has been observed in many cultures and even from the prehistoric times, it has served many purposes from a means to communicate belief systems, to expression of ideas about humanity’s day to day struggles. Aside from being a testament of the human experience, it has also served as valuable documents, proving insight, inspiration and wealth to those who possess them.

Let’s take a look at the history of art from the antiquities to the modern times and understand the special role that they played in many civilizations.

Art in Prehistoric Times

Image source: thetimes.co.uk

Life was hard for the hunter-gatherers during the prehistoric times (30,000-10,000 BC) but it was a crucial moment for humans to finally evolve from their abstract thinking to discovering and creating art.

The main purpose of the early humans’ art forms was for mere expression and description of their day-to-day life as hunters and gatherers. Cave paintings for instance, often show impressions of food and wild animals.

Art in the Middle Ages

Image source: historiska.se

The dawn of the 1st Century marked the age of early-Christian Art. Most art works were created to honor and praise the divine and the Bible. Catacombs were adorned with the most magnificent patterns; portable arts were now present and the construction of churches home to mosaics.

Religious writings and immortalizing the Word of God in books also started the artistic process of printing and book-making.

Art in the Renaissance

Image source: mentalfloss.com

The 15th century was the golden age for Italian art in Florence and it started a whole new trade to the recognition of the economic and monetary value of the works of art. Wealthy and powerful families began spending and commissioning artists to create sculptures and paintings to ‘beautify’ the Republic.

Art in the Modern Age

Image source: greatmuseums.org

The birth of impressionism transformed the art scene into something contemporary – and for the traditional artists, unrecognizable. It was the rise of experimentation and extreme individuality which eventually triggered new art movements, styles and schools.

The boom in the art scene also contributed to the rise in enthusiasts who are willing to spend over billions just to own a masterpiece. In fact, investing in art as a tangible asset has become one of the ways to diversify one’s portfolio.


Beyond aesthetics: Art as an alternative investment

Most investments available to regular investors today are usually paper assets—representations of ownership of an asset, such as a stock, bond, or money market account. They generate portfolio income, but their value or prices can fluctuate drastically depending on market conditions. They are in direct contrast to hard assets, which contain actual value in the nature of the item itself. They include precious metals (particularly gold and silver), diamonds, oil, real estate, and even artworks!


Image source: wfu.edu


Monetizing art is often considered an alternative investment. It is very illiquid and to some extent, risky. However, it can be a great investment option for people willing to put their money aside long-term.  Artworks, especially those created by established artists, are highly valuable. Their prices generally increase by age, but some can instantly be priced at the higher end of the spectrum if they were created by a famous personality. In some cases, valuable artworks (in all forms) may be found right in the attic: an antique wardrobe, pre-war photographs, a decades-old Chinese vase, or a painting bought many years ago and whose creator is now popular.


Image source: christies.com


Works of art’s prices are highly unpredictable. While they may generally increase over time, there is no guarantee that they could outperform stock indexes, for example. Most sales are conducted through private dealers and auctions are the most popular venues, attended only by people with the highest interest for such niche items. The best prices are given to those that were created by top artists—which include those that were virtually unknown while they were still alive but suddenly received considerable attention posthumous. Every work of art is unique, which means that it can create both opportunities and hazards for investors.


Image source: pablopicasso.org


Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to diversify one’s portfolio. A mixture of paper assets, currencies, real estate, and alternative investments can help one take advantage of the vast potential of these types of assets. As for works of art, however, investors should start with a genuine appreciation of the objects first before deciding to turn them into a platform to make money.


To get a professional advice regarding alternative investments, or if you wish to know more about investing as a whole, I recommend talking to an advisor at LOM Financial.