What makes an artwork good?

Dr. James Fox

Why are some artists famous and others forgotten? Why are some artworks priceless and others worthless? And in an era where so much art is so hard to fathom, how do we know whether a work of art is any good?

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Learn about this Garden Talk

Most of us have at some point come across an artwork that critics say is a masterpiece, but that we don’t “get”. We've all read stories about collectors paying fortunes for works of art that we wouldn’t pay a penny for. Are they right? Are we wrong? Or is artistic value all in the eye of the beholder?

In the second talk of his exclusive series for The Garden tackling the biggest questions in art, James Fox will disperse the cloud of confusion, pretention and international art speak that surrounds art in order to explain what makes an artwork good, which artists are overrated, which are underrated, and whether a painting or sculpture is ever worth what people are willing to pay for it. In doing so, he hopes to provide you with the tools you need to make your own mind up.

James is an art historian at the University of Cambridge, as well as a curator, award-winning broadcaster and the best-selling author of The World According To Colour.

Talk outline


50 minutes


Art's Biggest Questions

About the Fellow

Dr. James Fox

James fell in love with art at the age of six and hasn't looked back since. He is now an art historian at the University of Cambridge, a curator, an award-winning broadcaster and the author of bestselling book The World According to Colour.

Art's Biggest Questions Collection

Join our 4-part series as we explore the world of art with Cambridge Art Historian & Broadcaster, Dr James Fox.