Colors, Emotions, and the Auction Value of Paintings

Marshall (Xiaoyin) Ma, Charles Noussair, Luc Renneboog

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We study the impact of colors of paintings on prices in the art auction market and incorporate color attributes of non-figurative paintings in pricing models. A one standard deviation increase in the percentages of blue (red) hue leads to premiums of 10.63% (4.20%). We also conduct laboratory experiments in China, the Netherlands, and U.S., and elicit participants’ willingness-to-pay and emotions (pleasure-arousal). Blue (red) paintings command 18.57% (17.28%) higher bids and stronger intention to purchase. Although abstract art is visually arousing, it is the emotional pleasure channel that relates colors and prices. Our results are consistent across all three cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages72
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2019

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • emotion
  • auction
  • art investment
  • cultural economics


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