Art has value in Economic Terms Cultural Function Education and Aesthetic Beauty

Art has worth, importance, significance, meaning, appeal, attraction, beauty and, in the case of the Mona Lisa—the world’s most famous painting—a price tag of a billion dollars!

These traits all add up to what we call value and Leonardo’s famous painting is not just valuable in monetary terms, but in many other ways. So are the finest products of music, literature, sculpture and architecture with the purpose and function they provide to society.

Art has symbolic significance; it influences and affects our senses and emotions thus stimulating our intellect which adds value to our lives. Without art our world would be a devalued, poorer, weaker and an undervalued place to live in.

Measuring the value of a work of art however, isn’t that straightforward.

The cultural value of the fresco ceiling in the Sistine Chapel represents a devotional religious function to pilgrims as well as economic value to Italy with tourism.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel has historical value because it is Renaissance architecture and High Renaissance art, both of which were highly innovative 500 years ago, thus passing the test of time and surviving two world wars.

The Vatican is the cultural, religious and spiritual capital of Italy and the Roman Catholic world—this place is the apex in art and clearly valuable because it stimulates our emotions.

Art gives cultural identity because, for example, a carefully sculpted lime-wood altarpiece paid for by the community and commissioned by the local government has major collective purpose; it is used by the people who paid for it. St Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, sculpted by Veit Stoss is a wonderful example of this because the high altar tells the religious story of Joseph and Mary and many local people were involved in the manufacture of these grand works of art which weren’t the work of one individual.

The educational value of art is paramount for the next generation. By seeing a masterpiece, like the Holbein’s Ambassadors in the National Gallery, London, rather than being told about it in a book will inspire many children either to become artists themselves or to study art history as an academic disciple.

The aesthetic value or beauty in art is perhaps the easiest thing in the world to quantify. Take a look at Versailles or Pisa or Guernica or Sunflowers or the Statue of David or Indian temples in Khajuraho or listen to Mozart or read Plato or go to Egypt–that will show you the value of art.