The University of Kentucky has an active arts program in the University Hospital. This program incorporates visual, dance and musical arts. This is one disease I hope continues to spread.
“Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.” Irwin Greenberg (from The Painter’s Keys)
Suppose you are out and about without a sketchbook when suddenly the urge to draw strikes. It’s in your head but you need to record it. What can you do? This moment may never come again. If the image isn’t captured now, will it be lost down the memory hole? Quick! Pull out your smartphone and start drawing right where you are. Record that image. Get some marks down to take back to the studio. How? There’s an app for that. Sketchbook Mobile by Autodesk is a phone app to download for $1.99. Open the app and start drawing with color or black and white. This app is amazingly easy to use. If you are already using this addictive little toy, please share your experience! It would be great to hear how others are using this fun app. Who needs games when you could be drawing!
But look out! This toy is distracting.
“Do your job and demand your compensation—but in that order.” Cary Grant (from Brainyquote)
In two of my previous posts, the lack of resale compensation for visual artists, illustrators, photographers and sculptors was discussed. The United States Copyright Office has now partially reversed the previous ruling on resale royalties for visual artists. Visual artists have not had the same rights to royalties as composers, playwrights and screenwriters. There is a bill coming up in congress and the senate to grant full residual rights but this move by the Copyright Office signals a hopeful direction.
Judith Dobrzynski has covered the issue for the Arts Journal blogs and has a full report on what these changes mean. She received a report from the office of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) on his upcoming bill. Please go to her post for the full story here. There are also links in her article for the U.S. Copyright Office report on the reversal.
“Droit de Suite” is the title of these laws in Europe that came about from the destitute state of the granddaughter of artist Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875). Millet sold his painting, The Angelus for 1000 francs in 1865. 14 years after his death the painting was sold for between 553,000 francs and 800,000 francs depending on the report, while his family lived in abject poverty. His granddaughter was found selling flowers on the streets of Paris to survive. The laws only granted a very small amount to the artist and/or his family negating the complaints from art dealers about loss of compensation for the dealers and galleries.
The United Kingdom has very recently enacted a “Droit de Suite” law but the U.S. so far has not. This hopeful sign from the U.S. Copyright Office may signal an approaching change in this process for artists in the U.S. One can hope. And one can also contact his/her representative and senator to suggest they support “Droit de Suite” in the U.S. Perhaps visual artists dying in penury will soon be a thing of the past. No more granddaughters selling flowers on the street for survival.
Previous posts by me on “Droit de Suite” laws:
Other blog posts on the subject:
“A great artist is always before his time or behind it.” George Edward Moore (from Brainyquote)
Are most artists before the times or behind the times? Many art schools push students to explore new avenues, try new and different ways of creating art. Or they push students to seek new and different ways to say what’s been said before. Artists are striving to keep moving either backwards or forwards. No matter which way an artist is moving, the point is to keep moving.
Suppose an artist is fascinated with a particular time or place in history but currently most other artists are working to break new ground, make new history. Going backwards is one way of separating from the pack. The artist going backwards may break new ground, as well. A subject may be explored in ways it hasn’t been explored before. An artist may choose to paint in the style of previous artists but with a modern twist. Or perhaps, an artist is drawn to paint today exactly as it was done in past eras, recreating that style for the modern audience.
Artists seeking to break new ground can be moving fast toward new goals, doing new things. Artists behind the times are moving fast in the other direction. Art lovers of both directions are close on the heels of the artists. What of the people in the middle? They are standing still, not moving in either direction, stuck in their ways.
Whether an artist is ahead of the times, or behind the times, is a good thing. To live in the middle is to stagnate. Celebrate either direction. Just stay out of the middle ground mud or you may get stuck.
Musicians, writers, and actors are all paid residuals or royalties when their work is resold in another format or another venue. Visual artists are not. The starving artist mime continues to be true of visual artists. Not to say all musicians, writers and actors are receiving residuals but they all have the potential to work toward that goal. Visual artists do not. A writer can hope for publication in hardback, paperback, and possibly in film, as well as residuals with each book sale. Musicians can look forward to multiple sales of recordings. Actors can look forward to syndication, reruns and more. Visual artists can hope for a one -time sale and maybe increasing value of the one-time sales. Some may profit from licensing of their work. That’s basically it for visual artists though a living can be made from these avenues. But compared to other art forms it is minimal. That is why so many famous visual artists have died destitute while their art is worth millions.
A push has been on for sometime in Europe to see visual artists paid more in line with artists of other art forms. The galleries and dealers have pushed back hard. Some have feared art sales will be moved to countries without these laws. My question for these fear mongers is, “Did this happen with the other art forms?” Have actors, writers and musicians moved to countries with out artistic property rights? The answer is no. Fear mongering is just fear mongering.
These laws are called “droit de suite” laws. So far some basic forms of this law have passed in some European countries. Great Britain has enacted a “droit de suite” law very recently. One has been brought up in the United States Senate once and was dropped in committee. A new “droit de suite” bill is in the works. The Art Newspaper has the full report. I urge you to follow the link and learn about what could be a vital lifeline for visual artists! And after you have armed yourself with the meaning of “droit de suite” and what it can mean to you, CALL AND WRITE YOUR SENATOR! And while you’re at it, CALL AND WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TOO!
Its time to get paid for your vision!
“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision”. James McNeill Whistler (from brainyquote.com)
For more on Droit de Suite here are some links:
Here are links to what actors and musicians get paid:
“Art is a basic human language that is universal among cultures and across time.”
–Peter William Brown (from The Painter’s Keys)
The well from which visual art arises in the soul is a place difficult to put into words. Artists express what is in this place through what they put on paper or canvas. It is a fountain that is forcing its way out, pushing to the surface to be expressed. The fountain pours out, spills over. What needs to be said appears on the surface. What and how the expression is said is more or less directed by the individual artist. The important point for artists is whether their art must be literally understood or is it open to the translation of the observer?
This past April, Chinese-French artist, Zao Wou-Ki passed away leaving behind a legacy of art that bridged two cultures. Julia Grimes has written extensively on Zao and his art. Grimes quotes Zao in her article for CNN, “French and Chinese thought are not the same. It’s hard to translate between them. Sometimes you must wear yourself out trying to understand. Painting must express these feelings.” Zao’s art expressed what words could not. Zao tells The New York Times, “Everyone is bound by culture. I am bound by two.” He had no words to adequately communicate the two cultures he inhabited. Painting did that for him.
Does an observer understand Zao’s struggle between two cultures? Or does the observer simply see art that is pleasing to the eye? Does it matter? Zao was immensely successful. The language of his art spoke to others on many levels. Whether others saw or understood his struggle did not affect his success. The question for artists in their own work is if it is important for the language of their work to be understood literally? If understanding is the important factor then a decision must be made as to how best to get the point across. If the point is open for the interpretation of the viewer, more freedom of expression is possible. It’s the artist’s language. Each artist can decide how to speak it.
“Most inner-oriented artists share a common characteristic, a certain quality of obsession.” Kenneth Coutts-Smith (from The Painter’s Keys)
Much has been written and will continue to be written about the strange story of Cornelius Gurlitt and the hoard of some 1400 works of priceless art in his Munich apartment. How much of the art legally belongs to Gurlitt will be sorted out by the German authorities, eventually. Until that time, the man has finally come out of hiding to speak of his obsession. Gurlitt has given an extensive interview to Der Spiegel.
For those hoping to make sense of the story of the man, the interview won’t make that happen. If anything, the interview of Mr. Gurlitt only makes the story stranger. Gurlitt lived for and with his art and only his art. He has no friends and very little contact with any relatives. According to the article, he loves his art as if the works are his children. He is devastated by the confiscation of his art. He kept a collection of 25 drawings in a suitcase, taking them out each night at bedtime to gaze at them. For eighty years, Gurlitt has lived for his art.
What is it about art that can so totally consume a person as it appears to have done with Gurlitt? Some will say it is a mental health issue. That apparently occurred to the German authorities. They sent a social worker to Gurlitt’s apartment to speak to him. But Gurlitt’s behavior is really no more strange that the behavior of some of the artists whose work is in his collection.
The magnetism of art is a documentable phenomenon. For some it is visual art. For others it may be dance or theater, books, poetry or music. Is Gurlitt any different than the “Mystery Man” who put three roses on the grave of Edgar Allen Poe on the anniversary of his birth every year for over twenty years? Or of someone who pays 142 million dollars for a single work of art? The artists themselves, some of them, can be equally obsessive in the creation of the art. That doesn’t answer the question. What is it that creates the magnetism?
Magnetism is not something learned in school or in a book. It can’t be described in scientific terms. It either happens or it doesn’t. Some artists have it. Others don’t. It does not appear to be related to the skill or lack thereof, of the artist. If magnetism can’t be learned, is it out of reach to those who are striving for it? No. Magnetism comes from the still, small inner voice. Some may be better at listening than others. The skill of listening should perhaps be cultivated vigorously. Will following that inner voice lead to creating the kind of art that results in an obsession like Gurlitt’s? Who knows! But it is doubtful it will happen without it.
For more on Poe’s “Mystery Man” go here.
Occasionally, a statement in an unlikely place can jump out and grab your attention. The above quote, in a suspense fiction novel, provoked such a response. It does take courage for an artist to put art out there for others to comment on. Comments can warm the heart. Comments can hurt. Sometimes, comments just baffle. Yet artists continue to put art out there exposing themselves to the various opinions of others.
At a large gallery opening several years ago, a friend and I wandered around picking up on the conversations of others about the exhibited art. Many times it was difficult to understand what the heck people were talking about! Some of what we heard was down right funny. Other comments were very interesting, good and bad. We heard a full range.
When artists hear these comments, what are they feeling? It may depend on the artist. A film on Georgia O’Keeffe late in her life asked her how she felt when critics wrote about her work. Her response, “I never read what critics say.” It takes courage for artists to continue to express themselves in their work regardless of what others say, even though it might stick in your thoughts. Perhaps, it’s better to ignore the voices in your head, in this case. The rest of the time you’re on your own!
Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”
Many artists become attached to paintings. Each painting is a self -portrait in a sense, regardless of subject. Creating a work can feel almost like birthing a child. It’s hard to abandon a painting for someone else to possess when so much of self is in it. Abandonment is painful. And once the painting is gone the abandonment is complete. Maybe we delay completion, to delay the pain of separation. Each artwork is the outward expression of an inner emotional reaction. It can be difficult to let go of that response. In some ways, it feels like abandoning our self to someone else.
Artist Emily Rose describes her process of emotional expression through her painting. Depending on the emotional space of the artist, as Emily Rose describes it, a painting can possess various levels of the manifestation of feelings. Likely, this same thing happens to many of us. A painting then becomes the outward symbol of our inner feelings. Letting go of a painting means letting go of inner feelings.
How do we objectively let go of paintings with feelings splattered all over them? How have other artists overcome this dilemma? Any suggestions?