Thursday, May 10, 2007

Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth

I am bipolar about most things. Take art. On the one hand, I'm elitist. On the other, I'm depressed by the value of art being determined by the same 'free market' forces that affect other retail commodities – supply, demand and brand recognition.
A couple of years ago, inspired by the American sculptor, Robert Graham, I began experimenting with the online distribution of free, unlimited edition prints. The first was a stencil, NO!, based on a painting I'd done early in my career. I liked the idea that someone else could recreate my image in another medium and own at no cost and with little effort. I've distributed a couple more since then, offering to sign and 'authenticate' the reproductions if they were sent (along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope) to my studio. They're still available on my site: Multiple Surrenders and the Voodoo-inspired I Will Not Be Your Give Man Anymore .
I copped a lot of flak from 'art business' people about releasing free prints. A large number wrote to me saying that it wasn't really art because it could be reproduced and redistributed without my control. I was even warned that it would negatively effect the price of my original works (it hasn't, of course).
I am predicting a change in attitude now that the British Turner Award-winning artists, Gilbert and George, have done a similar thing. Unlimited edition art works will be acceptable, even desirable. The BBC TV controller/presenter who's laying claim to the idea seems pretty thrilled about it but I don't care – neither, I suspect, does Robert Graham. What bothers me is that people are so ready to reject an idea until it's proposed by someone more famous or – better yet – fashionable. Yeah, I know: we live in a time when celebrity determines influence. I guess I'd hoped that, in the arts, people were brave enough to think for themselves.


Daniel Sanger said...

great pic - I really love your work- it's very different and interesting with a great style.

Love that you gave away free prints:) Was a very bold move, and I suspect 'art business' only deemed it as 'not art' because there was no money to be made from it:) Good on you!

Julie said...

That's tragic because it's the market trying to control the creator. I've been stencilling discarded furniture on the street for a couple of years and it seems I have several collectors. Sometimes the whole object is taken other times it is excised it with a box cutter. I'm hoping fora retrospective exhibition in my old age. I just hope I get a credit.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the value of art is determined by the free market. It is expressed by it, is all, in a form that gets all the attention for obvious reasons. The actual value is hard to pin, sometimes ephemeral, and often eternal. Yes?

fisheggs said...

Original thought is few and far between in all parts of life. It took me a long time to understand accept this fact. Is it laziness, follower(itis), insecurity, a brain part that wasn't tweaked or an avenue that was closed early on?