The Project


Who does an artwork belong to? To the artist, the culture it originates from, the public or the collector who bought it?

When a work of art is bought at a high price, it must be a very good work or not? Everyone should be able to see it, get inspired, experience it. But often when it becomes private property after the purchase this isn’t the case: maybe it will land in a storage as an investment good waiting for its next sale.
An art work which is traded for money must be reduced to its only comparable value: the material one. An ideal value can be only developed if people see it, when it’s exhibited – the artist doesn’t gain recognition if no one sees there work.
Museums and other public cultural institutions can hardly compete with the market prices. For every exhibited piece there is also an insurance that grows the more prominent (read: expensive) an artwork is. Therefore these institutions are dependent on sponsors and collectors who give works of art as loans. When an art work develops a high price on the art market,  market value rises, but possibilities to show it publicly goes down.

The Art Retriever – Stock Market of pure Imagination retrieves art works from there hidden existence as investment goods and makes them publicly available again: regardless of its sort of ownership – maybe it was just bought las week for a few millions by a private collector. Copyrights which were made to regulate selling arrangements on the art market aren’t considered in this process.

This work is an online data visualisation processed in real time as well criticism on the institutional perception of art. Art is property, hence it must be owned by somebody. And who are the artists? Producers of objects of value. There are online data bases like and which offer not only auction results, but also graphs of an artist’s productivity, a prognosis of their art works values in the upcoming years and sales indexes.

On these online platforms you can see the best artists (neatly ranked by an all-over index). The more data there is about one artist (sale values, amount of purchases, amount of exhibitions, international recognition index, productivity,..) the more space it occupies also on The Art Retriever: All available data of a work make up its visualization: words and numbers appear and form the image of this art work on the screen. Most expensive Works (e.g. Picasso, Warhol, Richter) are nearly unrestrictedly visible, while one hit wonders or artists which aren’t that successful in general will be hardly visible and hidden behind their data.