Who creates your art work?

Image Courtesy Wall Street Journal

I recently read an article on Wall Street Journal, titled, ‘The Art Assembly Line.’  The article discusses the increase in use of art assistants by artists to help satisfy the demand for contemporary art.

Let me put it in the way I understood it! It is simply telling you that the next time you walk into an art gallery, find a new painting by a leading artist on the wall, stop to admire it, buy it by paying a hefty sum, bring it home and hang it on that drawing room wall, the chances that the artist who you thought created the painting and who actually created the painting being two different people is very, very high!

I am not suggesting that leadings artists shouldn’t employ apprentices to create an art work. In fact, I am all in favor of apprenticeship. Apprenticeship provides emerging artists an opportunity to learn from an expert and build a portfolio of art work while providing them with a source of employment. And this is the way even legendary artists like Leonardo da Vinci mastered his skills. I see the relationship between an apprentice and a master as mutually beneficial where everyone involved thrives.

But we are talking about art assistants here. And this is a whole different ball game. This looks like an arrangement where leading artists are taking advantage of the cheap labor in developing countries and exploiting the assistants by not giving them the credit they truly deserve. And to me, this is a despicable behavior that neither an artist nor an art patron should tolerate.

We do want the artists to make hay while the sun shines and take advantage of the art markets’ increase in appetite for contemporary art but where does one draw the line?

I am curious to know your thoughts. So drop a comment.

Until next time…


Posted on June 7, 2011, in Contemporary, Paintings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. That was an eye-opening article. This uber-commercialisation of art is appalling. Because many gallery owners confess upfront that apprentice painters are used, that doesn’t make the practice acceptable (to me atleast).creating a piece of Art is personal and no amount of assembly-line production guidelines by the artist can justify someone else doing the work for them. Art shouldnt be outsourced.

    • Thank you for your comments bedazzled. uber-commercialization of anything is appalling. We commercialize food production and end up with genetically modified and/or inorganic, unnaturally grown products which are detrimental in the long run. Art should not be outsourced but collaborative art under guidance with proper due credit is acceptable.

      BTW: You have a great blog. Keep on writing! If you like what you read on scarletcanvas, like us on FB and help pass the word around!

  2. Lots of fodder to mull over about creating, assistants and apprenticeships. After reading your article, the WSJ piece and also the one linked in WSJ comments section, it seems like for some its the idea that matters most – not necessarily they execute it themselves. But they are very sure that as the creator/architect of the idea, they get all credit. My admiration for huge/large scale works have been tinged with doubt and ambivalence ever since I saw an exquisitely beautiful enormous bead work sculpture by an artist only to find out that she had a band of beaders in Africa doing all the bead work for her. She also said that she could never do pieces like that if it meant she had to do all the work but those workers also would never come up with that kind of ideas either!!! May be I don’t dream big enough and so I am jealous!

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