Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Is there a bias in contemporary drawing?

The publication of the Manifest International Drawing Annual (INDA) this month caused me to consider whether there is a bias against figurative realism in contemporary drawing surveys. The INDA values skill and craftsmanship in drawing practice and considers classical realism as worthy of critical attention, however, in the 2008 Jerwood Drawing Prize catalogue there are 63 finalists and no realist drawings, with only three artists come close to realism. On looking through 'Vitamin D New Perspectives in Drawing' only two artists out of the 109 selected by UK curator Emma Dexter in 2005 practice figurative realism.

The drawings in the INDA that come under the heading ‘figurative realism’ can be sub-categorised as:

a) Classical Realism: still life (figurative), or life drawing (figural)
Drawings done from life using the sight-size method of drawing taught in the ateliers of Florence where an arrangement of objects or people are set up in the studio and meticulously drawn over a period of months. Here the focus is on traditional craft skills and honed observational skills. e.g. the drawing by Dorian Iten.

b) Drawings using photography as source material
These drawings need not be dismissed as ‘photorealism’. It is possible to use photography as source material and for it not to be ‘mere illustrative copying’. I saw ‘The Painting of Modern Life’ at the Hayward and enjoyed it because it was about considering photography as both the subject and object of paintings and the dialogue between the two mediums. e.g. Chuck Close developing his pixelated portraits or the work of Vija Celmins, which questions reality and representation. On the subject of transforming photography, I read with interest Sickert’s biography by Matthew Sturgis in which Sickert looked down on the use of photography in painting, favouring painting from life, before using newspaper clippings as source material for his portraits.

In the UK there is an attitude that dismisses figurative realism as illustrative and skill in observation and making doesn’t seem to rate as something to be valued. This style of drawing is dismissed as being merely ‘illustrative’ or ‘passé’ because it is ‘traditional’.

I consider that the work of Paul Emersley demonstrates skill and craftsmanship in the use of charcoal. My understanding of craftsmanship is that it is a firm grounding in the technical and material aspects of making. Charcoal is my chosen medium because it relates to my subject matter and when I was at art school I found it difficult to find examples of artists who really push the medium technically. When I attended a workshop at an atelier in Florence last year I was delighted to see many more examples, particularly the work of Dorien Iten, which is included in the INDA.

The introduction of a rigorous approach to drawing on fine art programmes might have the result of producing drawing surveys that include the variety of the INDA rather than more of the gestural ‘teenage bedroom’ aesthetic that we see so much of in painting and drawing in the UK today which relies on freehand drawing from memory. I have nothing against that style of work but I don't believe that it should be a dominant ideology of drawing to the exclusion of other approaches.

Drawing is essential to thinking and making and fine art students encourage students to question how their current understanding of drawing impacts upon their practice, with all categories of drawing given equal focus. In order to undertake a ‘diagnostic review of drawing’ the full range of possibilities in drawing need to be available to students. The current bias against skill, craftsmanship, and classical realism in both education and drawing surveys means that one needs to go to Florence to see technical proficiency in the visual language of classical realism, or be satisfied with seeing the occasional Paul Emersley drawing. I think that it is far more dangerous for the decision makers to make judgements that are bias against a particular category of drawing because it prevents this type of work being seen as a valid option or something that can be developed.


It is a breath of fresh air that the INDA values all sorts of drawing and that selection is based on merit and not curatorial agenda.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The National Open Art Competition Winners

Monday 23rd - Monday 30th November
Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester PO19 1TJ

'Untitled - Bed 7' has been awarded The Arts Club Prize for The Finest Drawing in the Show and will be exhibited at Pallant House Gallery with the other 17 prize winners.

The National Open Art Competition

Saturday 7th November - 21st November Open 10am - 9pm daily
The Minerva, Chichester Festival Theatre, Oaklands Park Chichester, PO19 6AP

'Untitled ­ Bed 7' has been selected by Gavin Turk (artist), Catherine Lampert (former director of the Whitechapel Gallery, London), and James Stewart (Zimmer Stewart Gallery, Arundel). All work is for sale, admission is FREE.

New Contemporaries I, The Bristol Gallery

Having opened its doors to critical acclaim with their inaugural exhibition, Myth and History in September 2009, The Bristol Gallery is now pleased to present New Contemporaries I. The Bristol Gallery's latest exhibition features the best and the brightest emerging contemporary artists, brought together for the first time at our premises on Bristol's prestigious Harbourside development. The show explores new parameters and directions, bringing a diverse range of talent and experience to new audiences in the region. The exhibition acts as site for unusual and exciting discoveries, promoting and creating access to vibrant contemporary visual art with a lively assembly of artists working in a range of media including photographs, textiles, abstracts, video, installation and sculpture.

We are proud to present works by Arno, Jan Lewin-Cadogan, Rakhee, Nicola Dale, Cordelia Spalding, Katharine Barker, Paul Wright, Fran Richardson, Alison Black, Susan Bowman, Peter Walker, Michelle Lord and Helen Grundy at affordable prices ranging from £150.00 - £15,000.00.

The exhibition runs from Saturday 7th November 2009 – Thursday 7th January 2010.

New Contemporaries I aims to show new and exciting art that engages the viewer in both looking at and thinking about the art on display; with this in mind The Bristol Gallery has carefully selected artworks to provide broad scope and multiple possibilities for visual interpretation and impact for audiences and collectors throughout the region.

Curated by Andrew Price and Holly Lopez.


Gallery Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 5pm
Late night opening: Thursday until 8pm

Further Information:
The Bristol Gallery
Building 8, Unit 2
Millennium Promenade
Harbourside
Bristol BS1 5TY

Tel: 0117 930 0005
Website: www.thebristolgallery.com

Friday, 9 October 2009

Art London

I am showing work with Long & Ryle at Art London 8-12 October 2009 at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London. http://www.artlondon.net

Monday, 31 August 2009

Why Are Artists Poor?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/6087124/Why-are-artists-poor-Self-promotion-and-making-money-in-the-new-digital-economy.html

It is becoming increasingly clear that artists need to develop business skills in order to survive. However, one could argue that if the job of the artist is no longer making the art but the promotion of it then practice will suffer and the quality of work will decline. I think it is all about finding a balance by dividing your time between the studio and the office to ensure that both sides of your practice are developed.

The main problem I see is how do artists with no business experience develop the skills they need to promote their work and protect their interests?

A paper on art and commerce

It Is Okay for Artists to Make Money…No, Really, It's Okay
Published: June 3, 2009
Paper Released: May 2009
Authors: Robert D. Austin and Lee Devin

When art and commerce are mentioned in the same sentence, many people become bad tempered or think something needs fixing. This paper argues that more artists ought to make more money more often. HBS professor Robert Austin and theater dramaturg Lee Devin identify and undermine three fallacies about art and commerce, and suggest that it is necessary to carry on a more careful and less emotional conversation about the tensions between art and business and to overcome a general aversion to business common among artists and their patrons. They also stress the need to develop better theories about how art and commerce can achieve integration helpful to both. Key concepts include:

* The interests of art, artists, and business can be best served if more commerce enters into the world of art, not less.
* There are three fallacies, often implicit, about relationships between art and commerce: (1) art is a luxury and an indulgence, (2) art is clearly distinguishable from "non-art," and (3) commerce dominates and corrupts art, and subverts its purpose.
* Good art should achieve appropriate commercial value consistently, not just occasionally. A conversation takes place when art and commerce are in tension, a conversation in which neither artists nor managers should dominate.

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the apparent conflict between artistic and commercial objectives within creative companies, taking as our point of departure a particularly energetic debate during a symposium at the 2007 Academy of Management meetings. We surface some assumptions that underlie such debates, compare them with findings from our research on creative industries, and identify three "fallacies" that sometimes enter into discussions of art in relation to money. This, in turn, leads us to propose a framework that can support more productive discussion and to describe a direction for management research that might help integrate art and business practices. We conclude that despite an inclination to take offense that often attends the close juxtaposition of art and commerce, which was very much in evidence at that AoM symposium in Philadelphia, the interests of art, artists, and business can be best served if more commerce enters into the world of art, not less. 31 pages.

Full text at: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6193.html

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Press Coverage on My LinkedIn Discussion

Give Up Your Artwork for Free - Are You Kidding Me?
by Victor Pytko

There comes a point in most artist's lives when they are asked to donate a piece of art...for charity or some other cause. When it first happened to me, I felt honored that my work might be worthy of an auction bid. But over the years (yes, I have donated at least 20 paintings) I have come to realize two things:
* I still feel a duty to make a contribution
* I now feel imposed upon

A conflict obviously. Only recently have I begun to see a resolution: donate only when the exposure -- not the sale -- provides a return on investment. In other words, when getting publicity for the donation positions you favorably with a buying public or when a profit can be made, if not now, then in the near term.

Generally, I now explain that despite popular notion, as an artist, I am not allowed to deduct the fair market value of the artwork; only the cost of the materials to make it! While bills have been introduced to change the ruling, nothing has been enacted. In most instances where I was asked, the value of the work had exceeded $300 -- about the price I could sell it --while bids never reached 20 percent of that. Everyone wants a bargain. Many times, I ended up bidding on my own work, in essence donating about $50, and took the painting back to sell elsewhere, leaving me a hole to get out of.

So now, I tell item collectors that while their cause is good, asking a starving artist to donate $300 (the market value of the work) is too much to ask, especially when a dozen similar requests are made each year. And I don't feel badly about it. It's not good business.

A groundswell of sentiment is erupting over on LinkedIn, in an artists' discussion group named Visual Artists and their Advocates. Artist Fran Richardson started the discussion Aug. 18, and so far (Aug. 29) there have nearly 90 comments, most agreeing that enough is enough when it comes to "working for free."

She wrote: "Today I received a second unsolicited email...offering me yet another chance to work for nothing. A small gallery...thinks that it is OK to spam professional artists with a ‘huge opportunity’ to design album covers and other promotional art work for a well-known indie band with no payment for the artist’s time and expertise. The gallery says that the ‘purpose of the competition is not to solicit work for free, but to provide a low cost medium for artists to promote themselves’."

If you follow Craigslist, you will see the "work for free for promotional value" is not uncommon among posts in the Gigs. There is reason for this, said LinkedIn commenter Dave Loewenstein:

"Is there anything more arbitrary and arcane than setting a value on art? So once this value is pulled out of thin air based on some mysterious formula the artist uses, the trick becomes trying to convince an 'art lover' that they should buy it. We're trapped by the value assigned into believing that one can actually place a value on something so inherently valueless. Think about it - how does one place a value on a painting or a photograph or a sculpture? Should it be based on an hourly wage of time spent in creating the piece? Should it be in the perceived value (there's that word again) of a piece? Art is so incredibly subjective, what may be priceless to one is worthless to another."

Michele Leivan provided this reference and astute observation::

"In a survey of attitudes toward artists in the U.S., a vast majority of Americans, 96%, said they were greatly inspired by various kinds of art and highly value art in their lives and communities. But the data suggests a strange paradox.

"While Americans value art, the end product, they do not value what artists do. Only 27% of respondents believe that artists contribute "a lot" to the good of society.

From http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/Public2/About/AnAmericanParadox/index.cfm

"Further interview data from the study reflects a strong sentiment in the cultural community that society does not value art making as legitimate work worthy of compensation. Many perceive the making of art as a frivolous or recreational pursuit.

"Other insights further illuminate the depth of the paradox:

* A majority of parents think that teaching the arts is as important as reading, math, science, history, and geography.
* 95% believe that the arts are important in preparing children for the future.

"But there you have it - it's a cultural thing.... and it doesn't settle well in my stomach. This is why without conscience a person will happily ask you to donate your work without compensation, but they would be quite offended if you asked them to work for you for free...That isn't even a barter, and bartering doesn't buy art materials!"

Now, don't you want to join the discussion?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Artist Business Terms & Conditions

1. Opportunities for exposure.
Artists are frequently presented with "opportunities" from organisations that are only interested in furthering their own cause rather than creating a win-win. Some artists decide to negotiate better terms by agreeing a fair trade that gives them something more concrete than vague ‘exposure’. Always ensure that you get any agreements in writing.

2. Loaning work.
The lending of work to venues with a commercial objective for free is not respecting your practice as a professional. Giving your art away for free undermines your practice and does a disservice to those businesses that do purchase your art. The loan of art work should be on a rental basis.

3. Working with charities.
Charity loans of art work should only be given to genuine charities and non-profit groups that you want to support, however, giving a donation to that charity might be better than taking part in auctions where you will not receive your artist price for the work. You could try negotiating with the charity and offer the work for sale at market price with 30 percent going to the charity.

4. Publishing your work in books.
Before sending photographs of your work for publication in books negotiate a contract to ensure that you are paid fairly and credited. In the UK the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) help artists and visual creators receive recognition and reward for their work.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Protect yourself

Problematic galleries are a global problem. I decided to ensure that I enter all business relationships with a contract after one of my art school tutors was scammed by a London gallery which closed down owing him £80,000 for work they had sold during his solo show!

Here in the UK I find that most professional commercial galleries will send you a copy of their artist terms and conditions when they ask you to show with them.

For those galleries that don't have one (and this is a warning to you about the sort of person you are dealing with!) I protect myself by writing up a contract detailing responsibilities for the gallery and the artist including: how images of the work are to be used, acceptable discounts, responsibility for insurance in transit and in the gallery, the condition of the work on delivery, the agreed retail price for each work, the commission rate, and my payment terms (eg within x days of the show closing/dealer accepting the buyers money) including my bank account details to encourage direct payments.

I always ask a gallery representative to sign a delivery note for work taken on consignment.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Why are artists expected to work for free?

Today I received a second unsolicited email in my junk email box offering me yet another chance to work for nothing. A small gallery in Oxfordshire thinks that it is OK to spam professional artists with a ‘huge opportunity’ to design album covers and other promotional art work for a well-known indie band with no payment for the artist’s time and expertise.

The gallery says that the ‘purpose of the competition is not to solicit work for free, but to provide a low cost medium for artists to promote themselves’. The design of free promotional material is indeed a low cost medium, but I wonder if any of the professionals from the music industry or their promotional agencies are expected to provide their services to this band for nothing? Is this practice spreading to other industries now or do people just think that it is only artists who are too desperate to say no?

Why is the offer of promotion considered to be a valid trade for time and skill? Promotion is great, but you can't eat it. And what guarantee does the artist have that their name will even be mentioned? While the band and gallery will have their interests protected by contracts written up by law professionals how can an artist working for free afford such advice?

Paintings by the late artist Mati Klarwein were used for the covers of Santana and that did nothing for his artistic career. See http://www.matiklarweinart.com/

The worst part about this story is that the request for free work is coming from someone who represents artists. Even the Arts Council are supporting artist exploitation by listing unpaid jobs and exhibition ‘opportunities’ that artists are expected to pay for.

I urge every artist reading this to take a stand against exploitation by saying no to providing free services. It is time to demand fair pay for creative work. Together we can stop this madness.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Brighton Festival 2009

Fran has been awarded the Visitors Choice Prize by visitors to the 'House: Art and Domestic Space' show on recently at The Regency Town House. Throughout the Brighton Festival visitors were able to vote for their favourite artist taking part in the Selectors’ Choice exhibition.

The Selectors’ Choice exhibition showcases work of artists exhibiting in the Open Houses. The exhibition, chosen by curators from Brighton Museum, Pallant House Gallery Chichester and The Regency Town House, mixes accomplished, dynamic and engaging work in a stunning gallery space. 'Untitled - Chair 3' and 'Untitled - Bed 5' have been selected by Nicola Coleby (Exhibitions, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery), Simon Martin (Assistant Curator, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester), and Woodrow Kernohan (Director, Permanent Gallery).

The domestic context of The Regency Town House forms the perfect setting for an open exhibition based on the theme of ‘House’. Over 80 artists submitted work, and the work chosen provides an imaginative discourse on the theme. ‘House’ is explored through its association with domesticity, shelter, enclosure, space, materials, family, memory and many other meanings. The work ranges from complex to deceptively simple, from evident association with the theme to more subtle exploration that rewards engagement. Assemblages, moving image work, paintings and prints are combined in a thought provoking exhibition in the resonant setting of this Regency period townhouse in the midst of restoration.

Pastels Today 2009

'Untitled - Bed 8' has been awarded the Brian Sinfield Fine Arts Award. The drawing was selected from an exhibition of the best of contemporary pastel painting and drawing in the UK on show at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London. On show was a variety of work in pastels, oil pastels and charcoal, reflecting the diverse nature of the medium, and included work by the late Mark Leach and invited artist John Emmanuel.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Artist Resale Right

The Artist's Resale Right was implemented in the UK in 2006 as the result of the EU Droit de Suite Directive which aims to harmonise intellectual property legislation across Europe offering visual artists the same protection as writers and composers. It entitles all living artists in the visual and plastic arts to receive a royalty each time a piece of art work is resold by a gallery, dealer, auction house or agent for more than €1000 (approx £850).

The legislation defines an artwork as "any work of graphic or plastic art such as a picture, a collage, a painting, a drawing, an engraving, a print, a lithograph, a sculpture, a tapestry, a ceramic, an item of glassware or a photograph." It also says that "a copy of a work is not to be regarded as a work unless the copy is one of a limited number which have been made by the author or under his authority."

The resale right covers all works of art protected by copyright which is automatically granted once a piece of work is made in material form and lasts for the lifetime of the artist, plus 70 years after his/her death. However, the British Government has decided to further delay the full implementation of the Artist’s Resale Right which would enable deceased artists to bequeath their royalties to their families and loved ones until the copyright expired - a right long enjoyed by writers and composers.

An online petition has been set up calling on the Prime Minister to review this decision. Please find the link to this below. I hope you will support this, and encourage your friends to do the same.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Resale-Right

The royalty is subject to compulsory collective management so artists must register with a collecting society to claim their royalty.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Manifest International Drawing Annual 4

Fran is pleased to announce that her charcoal drawing 'Untitled - Bed 7' has been selected for The Manifest International Drawing Annual 4.

Featuring 100 contemporary drawings selected from over 1100 submissions by artists from across the globe the book will go on sale in September 2009 from Amazon or at www.manifestgallery.org.

The Manifest Drawing Centre, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, publishes the International Drawing Annual to promote, feature, and explore drawing as a rich and culturally significant art form in the United States and beyond.

www.franrichardson.com

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Copyright - When is appropriation appropriate?

Borrowing or quoting from an existing work of art is nothing new as artists have been stealing ideas for centuries. In 1873 Manet used part of a Raphael composition as the basis for his work Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe, updating their clothing and adding the naked women. Nearly a century later, Picasso paraphrased Manet's work in the extensive series of paintings, drawings, sculptures and linocuts he executed between 1959 and 1961, 'Les Dejeuners'. The current show of Picasso’s paintings at the National Gallery, ‘Picasso: Challenging the Past’, demonstrates his use of appropriation by comparing his work with examples from the gallery’s collection. As Picasso confirmed: ‘Good artists borrow, great artists steal’, but when does borrowing become theft in contemporary visual practice?

The notion of appropriation emerged in post-modern critical discourse in the 1970s and has since become commonplace in contemporary culture, particularly in the music industry through the use of sampling. The term ‘appropriation art’ came into common use in the 1980s when artists addressed the act of appropriating as a theme in art. Influenced by his job at Time-Life the US artist Richard Prince started to use advertising as the subject matter for his paintings in the 1980s, and has since become known for his experimental use of appropriation in his practice.

Prince is currently being sued for copyright infringement by the French photographer Patrick Cariou who claims that Prince used images from his photographic survey of Rastafarian culture in a series of paintings without permission. Prince's dealer Larry Gagosian is also named as a defendant for exhibiting the works in the recent show titled ‘Canal Zone’ in which 20 out of the 22 works featured photographs from Cariou’s book.

Whether this latest lawsuit will have any impact on Prince’s creative output remains to be seen. He has been in trouble before, reaching an out of court settlement with photographer Garry Gross in the 1980s for his use of a picture Gross had taken of Brooke Shields. Undeterred he went on to upset a group of commercial photographers when he achieved international celebrity with his re-photographed enlargements of Marlborough advertisements which sold for millions of dollars.

This case will be important for artists because Cariou's legal team are arguing that the appropriations used in 'Canal Zone' are especially egregious because they are by an artist and not a commercial photographer. If the case goes to court Prince will need to demonstrate that his use of the images was transformative and therefore permissible under the United States’ doctrine of ‘fair use’, which allows for limited reproduction of copyright imagery for the purpose of parody or other creative ends.

Artists in the UK can run into difficulties when their appropriations are of material created for commercial gain by the 'cultural industries' such as the global film, broadcasting, and recorded music industries, who will use intellectual property laws to protect such products from perceived or actual commercial threats, including those perceived from visual artists' appropriating and using such media. Artists who are caught illegally using appropriations of film clips or stills in their work are infringing copyright and may have to pay a fine and serve up to ten years in prison. However, permission for non-commercial use are likely to be given at a low cost if the artist writes to the film or record company and explains the intended use and its relevance to the art work.

With regard to the appropriation of art works, the UK Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 automatically covers an original work of art when it is fixed in a material form until 70 years after the artists death. Copyright law protects the original physical manifestations of an artist’s ideas or concepts, such as the shapes, forms, configurations, perspective, and the colours or lines of a painting.

An artist is only considered to be the copyright owner of a work of art if its shape, form, configuration and perspective (the visual image) is not substantially derived from a work made by someone else; i.e. the artist must not have copied the visual language of another artist.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Public Art: can creative ambition be safe?

A tragic accident at a summer fair in 2006 raises important questions about creative vision and responsibility for public safety when exhibiting works of art that invite public participation.

A jury at Newcastle crown court has found the artist Maurice Agis, 77, guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after his walk-through artwork broke loose from its moorings killing two women trapped inside and injuring 23 others. The survivors gave graphic accounts of standing on firm ground one moment and then, as the structure took off and turned on its side, of facing a sheer drop before tumbling down and bouncing off the internal columns as they fell.

The giant inflatable sculpture ‘Dreamspace V’, a honeycomb of brightly coloured translucent cells, was caught by a gust of wind that dragged it into the air and flipped it over. Two women fell from the highest point and were killed on impact with the ground. The jury are still considering two further charge of manslaughter of the victims through gross negligence.

Agis has a 40-year track record of making quality public art work. He developed his first solo walk-in sculpture, Colourspace in 1980, an award-winning installation described as "abstract walk-through spaces" which prefigured his work on Dreamspaces. I visited this smaller version at Clapham Common in 2001 and enjoyed walking through the psychedelic tunnels of pure, intense colour.

It was the artist’s ambition of increasing the size of the sculptures that seems to have greatly increased the risk for participants. The prosecutor argued that a suitably qualified and experienced engineer should have carried out proper calculations and tests on the design of the anchorage system. But what sort of engineer is qualified for such a scheme? Nothing else like it has been attempted before; the piece was an enormous 2,500 square metres, about half a football pitch.

This ruling has placed the responsibility for risk assessment on such projects with the artist, but artists are not engineers, they are visionaries who use their creativity to provide viewers with a new ways of thinking about the world. So who is ultimately responsible to assess the safety of interactive art works? What role do venue organisers have in assessing risk to public safety? Should the Health and Safety Executive be involved in such projects and what impact will that have on creative vision and ambition of artists the future?

Have you had experience of producing interactive sculpture and what is your experience of risk assessment?

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Fine Art of Looking

Artists can all breathe a sigh of relief now that Sotherby's head of contemporary art has announced a 'return to seeing the real object and what kind of presence it has, what's great and what is not so good. And what's great will nowadays sell.'

A return to the art market seeing the work will hopefully mean that collectors will practise discernment and trust their own judgement rather than jumping into frenzied buying of the latest must have piece that is recommended by a dealer or consultant. The art market trend for placing pieces of work to build a collection that grows in monetary value robbed collectors of the real pleasures in buying art: looking and enjoying what you see.

As Laura Cumming comments in the Observer: 'More art was constantly required. It hardly mattered whether the work had any meaning, let alone quality. Practically the only rule was that it must be advanced art - progressive, serious, high-minded, what used to be called avant-garde; all this meant was that if second-rate, then knowingly so, and if kitsch, then in an ironic rather than innocent fashion.'

Personally I welcome the recession; it will put a stop to the rapid over-consumption of art that we have seen in the heated market of the last decade. The number and size of art fairs that promoted the buying to invest mentality prevented any considered looking and only promoted speed viewing of attention grabbing eye candy. As one dealer representing my photorealistic charcoal drawings at an art fair recently commented: 'you need a slower audience for your drawings, art fair collectors assume they are photographs because they are too busy to stop and look properly'.

If artists continue to make well crafted and intelligent work, hopefully the art industry that we depend on for showing and selling it will start looking at the art object for what it really is.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Exhibiting: DIY at Home

This month's Art Forum reports that artists focussed on generating community involvement rather than profit are showcasing work in nontraditional spaces, including their homes. US artists Eve Fowler and Lucas Michael set up Artist Curated Projects to curate shows both by and for artists. They hold monthly exhibitions in the kitchen and living room of Fowler’s West Hollywood apartment. With a similar DIY ethos, Eli Langer’s Sundays Gallery, located in a Hollywood office building, is used as an ad hoc living space and has a painting by Michael Rashkow embedded face-first in the kitchen wall.

Has anyone had any experiences of doing this? Tell us how it worked out for you.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Professional Practice: Insurance

Mark Dion Sculpture Theft Not Insured

A public art project by US artist Mark Dion is in ruin following the theft of 21 bronze sculptures in February 2008. They formed part of The Tasting Garden, a public garden created in 1998 by Dion consisting of a series of pathways each terminating with a heritage-variety fruit tree and a plinth with a 2ft sculpture of the corresponding tree’s fruit. The theft took place from city-owned land but the insurance policy did not cover larceny (theft without force).

This unfortunate story is an important reminder for artists and curators to check the small print of contracts and insurance policies before agreeing to show the work. If necessary take out your own policy. Subscribers to A-N can buy reasonably priced off the peg or tailored policies to insure their work and studio contents. Go to http://www.a-n.co.uk/air/article/388528