Tuesday, June 2, 2009

About the Relationship Between the Creator and the Employed....

Do you feel that persons involved in the creation of a work other than the artist should be credited with involvment? For example, should Vic Hislop- the fisherman who caught the sharks used in both the original "Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" and the updated version - have his name next to Damien Hirst's? Hislop arguably played a pivotal role in the creation of the work, being the individual who actually caught the shark. If so, shouldn't he then share in the profits from the selling of the work? If this is the case, should we not also acknowledge the employees of Warhol, and the aids to Michelangelo?


  1. This is a sticky situation that can be very hard to answer. I believe that I have read that Hirst did fund Hislop for his endeavors; however, Hislop was not given access to the final profit. Should Hislop be counted as a contributed member in the profits? Depends, was Hislop the key contributor to the idea? Was the point of this artwork not in the construction, but rather within the idea? That is the more probable reason why Hislop would not be considered for credit. Not that I agree with that personally.
    As with Warhol, his goal was to make art as a machine. A robot doesn't get hardly any credit for its contribution, nor does its individual parts. Instead, a machine creates things mindlessly based on a set of programmed instructions. Warhol supplied these instructions, therefore, is the key mechanic of the operation. We overall give the mechanic more authority than that of the machine. Warhol's machine may have been sloppy and human, but his original intention was to make art a cold mechanical medium.
    Last, it was probable that Michelangelo's employee's, as with other artistes that employed under workers like Rebuns, most likely received some compensation for their efforts. Artists joined guilds to learn and train under a master. This in turn could mean helping the master create his masterpiece. Today a student’s efforts would have been well documented, however, in this time this is not the case. Would people be willing to go back and time and give credit where credit is due? As with rewriting history for feminist scholars, it would be obviously no.
    I am just presenting the facts as they appear. There has been many such projects that I have had a part in were my name isn't mentioned or clearly stated on several occasions. A big example would be the realm of theater production. Personally, I am a little disheartened, but I suck it up and move on. Sometimes art is a group effort. However, more are interested in the person who makes the plans over the ones who help make the plan happen. This is just the way the world is, and the world is not a utopian place.

  2. Nick's question is an interesting one because in fairness to people who serve as contributors in some way, I would say "yes" that credit is due. HOWEVER, there is a difference between collaboration and contribution. Collaboration is a holistic effort wherein you are involved w/ a process and the decision making along the way. An example would be Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Although Christo is calling all of the shots, literally, as a project is mounted, he and his wife are collaborators in my sense of the word. But, the artist himself, does not acknowledge her as such. I know this be/c a few years ago, as we were re-writing the labels in the Jacobs Collection, we had put Christo and JC's names on the wall text next to their "Surrounded Islands" piece in our collection. It was only as we re-did the text again, under Ashley's direction in the fall of '06, that we were corrected (in this case, by the dealer from whom that work was purchased). He said that Christo and JC are not collaborators but that each has a specific role to fulfill: she for business and logistics, he for creative vision and ideas. That, to me, falls short of reality, as it implies she has no creative vision or ideas. That is ridiculous.

    The beauty of dealing with living, working, artists is that you can verify information with them and, still, come to your own conclusions.