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Monet’s, Nympheas… $11 Million; Rothko’s, White… $73 Million; My Youngest Son’s, The Burial of Our Dog Rover… Priceless!: Consumer Behaviour in the Fine Art Market

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Today’s international fine art market annually accounts for billions of dollars in revenue, millions of jobs, and boasts consumers who are among the world’s wealthiest and most influential individuals. Outside of the financial impact of the industry, the fine art market is unique in that it provides value for consumers on multiple levels: social, financial, and aesthetic. Despite the complexity and enormity of the fine art market, limited research has been conducted related to consumer behaviour within it. What motivates individuals to buy fine art? How do affect tags embedded in paintings influence buyer behaviour? And how do consumers evaluate art once purchased? Two essays are presented around consumer behaviour in the fine art market. These papers build theory and extend the literature about consumer motivations in the purchase and sale of fine art, how negative affect tags influence buyer behaviour, and how intimacy can be created between consumers of fine art and the creators of it. In essay one, twenty-seven interviews were conducted with art consumers and dealers from around the globe. These interviews were analyzed inductively and coded for themes and patterns. From these interviews themes of consumer-creator connectedness, generational gifting, consumer-product connectedness, and self-concepts emerged. Stereotypes of downtrodden, even depressed artists are pervasive in society. Much of behavioural research has focused on an individual’s desire to avoid negativity, and yet there exists a paradox whereby individuals seem to seek out art laden with negative tags (such as depression of an artist, or the sadness of the subject matter). Consumers even seem to appraise artwork with negative tags as more valuable. This paradox is examined in essay two, which proposes a theory that negative affect tags (versus positive) increase consumer evaluation of fine art and that this relationship is mediated by the intimacy the consumer feels with the creator of the painting. Three experiments and one field study were conducted to examine these phenomena.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Pitt, Leyland
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etd7247_ABal.pdf 1.8 MB

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