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.