The Validation Procedure: Criteria to Predict Greatness


The Validation Procedure: Criteria to Predict Greatness

Artprice’s Contemporary Art Price Index increased 40% in the first half of 2019 led by artists such as Peter Doig and Jeff Koons. Here, supply is rapidly decreasing: collectors do not want to sell their prized artworks (‘Stronger Demand for Contemporary Art’, ArtPrice).

The results show persistent demand for museum-quality works, but the secondary market’s supply has tightened somewhat” – Thierry Ehrmann, Artprice’s Founder/CEO

Is there a clear path to artistic greatness, and, if so, how can the collector benefit?

Whether you are collecting art for its artistic value, investment potential, or both, at Elizabeth Xi Bauer, we believe that they are the same thing. The art schools, foundations, and museums, for instance, validate artists and artworks for their artistic value and the art funds, for example, validate for investment.

One method is to look at specific criteria, such as key points in an artist’s career, which we shall examine below.

Firstly, an artist’s education: winning a place to study (Bachelor’s, Master’s or even a PhD) at the most prestigious art schools in the world is extremely difficult; they are only attended by the select few. Furthermore, an artist may have received educational scholarships (e.g. university, governmental, charity) for their studies – another sign of excellence.

“The direction in which education starts a man, will determine his future life” – Plato, The Republic, c.380 BC

The Royal College of Art (RCA) was named the best art school (100/100 Academic Reputation) in the world for the fifth consecutive year by the prestigious QS World University Rankings beating 1,376 other institutions. Alumni include Frank Auerbach, Chris Ofili and David Hockney, for instance.

“Centres for studying art have shaped global culture over the past century” – Sam Thorne, Director of Nottingham Contemporary

Acceptance into the top art schools, after stringent and rigorous assessment, is only the beginning. The artist has to constantly show their worth as the art schools have strong reputations to uphold at all times. Professors first admit the artists and then challenge and push their students in the profusion of lectures, seminars, discussions and critiques. Furthermore, some of the greatest artists have also taught.

We can also look to see if an artist has stood out among their peers as the best of the best: have they won scholarships for travel, awards and prizes and the art experts who nominated them. Key examples at the RCA include the Villiers David Travel Award, The Work in Progress Award and The Helen Chadwick Award.

One can look to the residencies the artist has undertaken around the world. These allow artists time and space away from their usual environment to create work, such as responding to their new environment and the inspiration they have there, often culminating in an exhibition. This could shape the future direction of their practices. Of course, we look at the artist’s exhibitions: national, international and museum exhibitions developing ideas, bodies of work and experimenting with new ideas.








Being invited to exhibit at a biennial is one of the highest honours in the art world. They are global platforms for an artist to showcase their work to an international audience. An artist may be invited to represent their nation, or in a group exhibition or in special projects. The blue-print is, of course, the Venice Biennale and other important examples include the Bienal de Cerveira in Portugal, the International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Prague, Sao Paulo Biennial, Whitney Biennial.

Who has the artist been collected by? Such as Foundations, Corporations, Museums. Museums are the art world ultimate validation, a place in art history shaping the cultural landscape.

“It is only the museum artists whose works begin to rise to exceptional prices, and, of course, it is the very rarity of such artists in a supply-and-demand market that accounts for the phenomenal prices achieved today in the auction houses” – Sir Alan Bowness CBE, British art historian and former Director of the Tate between 1980 and 1988

“Inevitably, artists of genius are few in number…art, like science, is highly selective” – Sir Alan Bowness CBE

Because art is highly selective, artistic achievement is also extremely predictable: there is a clear and consistent progression towards artistic success.

Elizabeth Xi Bauer helps collectors build in a deterministic way, thus giving them an edge, a collection of proven high artistic value and thus investment potential. Our highly qualified award-winning team of art world experts have sourced artists who have proven track records who are on a clear upward trajectory.

Among them our artists have received scholarships to study at the world’s best art schools, such as the RCA, won top awards there, exhibited internationally and in museums, invited to the most renowned biennials, collected by international collections such as corporations and museums: Tate, MoMA, Pompidou Centre, British Museum, Victoria and Albert, and Yale Center for British Art, for example.

This article was published by Family Office Magazine (‘Art & Museum’ Winter Issue)