Department of Economics
University of Delaware
Working Paper #2008-06
Prices for Paintings by African American Artists and Their Contemporaries: Does Race Matter?
(Revision of Working Paper No. 2006-06)
Richard Agnello and Xiaowen Xu
This paper investigates the
extent that economic markets have incorporated mainstream artistic acceptance of
African American art. Price levels and movements for paintings by African
American artists versus their white contemporaries are compared using auction
data from 1972 to 2004. Means in the aggregate as well as individually are found
to be significantly lower for African American artists in almost every case.
Hedonic regressions are used to refine the statistical analysis by controlling
for factors characterizing the painting and auction environment. In the
regressions significant differences persist between the two groups with African
American artists experiencing lower price levels but higher price appreciation
throughout the period. The price gap thus appears to be narrowing indicating a
possible convergence of economic reality and artistic appreciation. In addition,
the higher investment returns for paintings by African American artists made
them a relatively profitable art niche in recent years and possibly for the
future since economic values have not completely converged for the two groups.
JEL Codes: Z11, G12, D44
Keywords: Economics of Art,
Painting Prices, African American Painters, Hedonic Regression