Posts Tagged ‘value’

Photo: Luana Rigolli/T293 Gallery).
Art by Dylan Rose Rheingold, “Hot Skates” (2022), oil, acrylic, paint pen on canvas. Although growing numbers of artists question the value of signing their works, Rheingold is one who has chosen to sign.

When my mother died, there were decisions to be made about several works by our neighbor, the Abstract Expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart. For most of his career he rebelled against the custom of signing work. But toward the end of his life, he came around to the idea that in the art market, his family and friends needed to have his signature. He offered to sign our paintings. We sold some and kept some. The photographs and brass jewelry were never signed.

Anoushka Bhalla wrote recently at Hyperallergic that the issue of signing keeps coming back in the art world.

“It all began during the early Renaissance when a young Raphael Santi forwent the long-held tradition of co-operative art making under guild systems to autograph his first painting, ‘The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine.’

“While Raphael was modest in breaking long-established customs, obscuring his signature within decorations behind a Virgin Mary figure, his male successors centuries down the line would not remain as bashful. The signatures of Picasso and Keith Haring are far more familiar than that of, say, Helen Frankenthaler. …

“Signed artworks by male artists fetch astounding prices in the secondary market as compared to their female counterparts. A recent study states that ‘For every £1 a male artist earns for his work, a woman earns a mere 10p.’ The same study also states that ‘while the value of a work by a man rises if he has signed it, the value of a work by a woman falls if she has signed it, as if it has somehow been tainted by her gender.’ Female artists have long been conscious of this gender disparity, with some feeling paralyzed against the market and choosing to forgo their signatures to make their works more ‘collectible.’ Are these artists signing away their autonomy too?

“I spoke to Baseera Khan about these troubling statistics. A femme artist of color, they were the subject of a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 2021. ‘No, I don’t sign my works. I think it’s an old tradition,’ they declare. ‘I don’t think I’m valued because of my gender, because I’m a femme artist, quite not as much as the male artists — and that’s a fight.’ …

“Artists Julie Torres and Ellen Letcher, who operate LABspace, an artist-run gallery in Hillsdale, New York, often find themselves in awkward positions, having to ward off collectors who demand signatures from their artists and sometimes even return works for them to be signed. But for others, like Lucia Hierro, whose work was recently acquired by the Guggenheim Museum, and who often does not sign her pieces, says she will stand her ground. There is a finality to signatures, she says, which she dislikes.

“[Although Xayvier Haughton] makes art that is difficult to collect, he feels defenseless in the face of powerful collectors who make sure to somehow obtain his signature before acquisition. He acknowledges this as a conscious decision on his part. Installations are notoriously difficult to collect, and that in itself is an anti-market statement. … While Haughton wants to adhere to his principles, he doesn’t want to be blacklisted in the art world — which he feels is the fate of artists who defy the desires of collectors. In this fickle art-world bubble, he’s attempting to hold onto his autonomy by forgoing his signature.

“But some disagree with this sentiment. Bhasha Chakrabarti, also an emerging artist, who works in painting, sculptures and installations, is a skeptic. ‘I find the idea of making installation with the motivation of evading the market to be disingenuous…. If you make art and are functioning within the gallery system, you’re not evading the art world,’ even though, she adds, she feels suspicious of the art world’s deep stake in capitalism. When I mention the Eurocentric history of asserting ownership via signatures on artwork, she counters, citing Sufi mystic poets who claimed authorship after each recital. …

“Artist Chiffon Thomas approaches the dilemma more philosophically. Thomas, whose solo show Staircase to the Rose Window was on view at PPOW Gallery in Tribeca last year. … Over time, he explains, he stopped signing his works and acquired an existential approach to art-making. He realized he wanted to capture a sense of universality in his art, to the extent that he grew uncomfortable using his childhood, his family, or any personal signifiers. …

“But perhaps the most compelling response comes from a young artist, Dylan Rose Rheingold. As more painters shy away from signing their works on the front of their canvases, Rheingold realizes this is an empowering act as a woman. Nevertheless, she will occasionally sign as ‘Dylan,’ a traditional male name, although she also uses the more feminine ‘Dylan Rose,’ and lately she is using her full name, Dylan Rose Rheingold, boldly asserting ownership over her art.

“Her resolve strengthens when she explains passionately a recent encounter she had with a ‘big collector who owns a big gallery in New York. … When I met him, he told me that I should drop my middle name because my work would be a lot more valuable. People would not assume I’m a woman.’ She countered with ‘I’m happy to take my chances.’ ”

More at Hyperallergic, here. No firewall but memberships are encouraged.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post
Denver Performing Arts Complex in 2017. The creative economy in Colorado accounted for 4.3 percent of the state’s gross domestic product in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available.

It can’t be stated too many times that the arts are often an important driver of local economies — and a reason for states and municipalities to help artists be successful. Rhode Island, for example, aims to help artists by not taxing art sales, but the lack of affordable housing in the state remains a big problem.

Joe Rubino writes at the Denver Post about Colorado’s creative economy, noting that anyone who saw a show at the local opera house in 2015, bought a painting or book by a Coloradan, or visited a local museum “contributed to the $13.7 billion arts and culture brought to the state’s economy that year, a figure that outdid both the mining and transportation sectors. …

“The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts on [March 7] unveiled their most recent analysis of the economic impact of arts and culture in the U.S. In 2015, the year with the most recent reporting data, goods and services generated by museums, architecture firms, artists and other artistically inclined businesses and agencies accounted for 4.3 percent of the Colorado’s GDP. …

“[Nationwide,] creative industries accounted for a $20 billion trade surplus that year, according to the analysis. Work in arts and culture accounted for 4.9 million U.S. jobs in 2015. Of those, 100,631 were in Colorado. …

“The analysis, collectively known as the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account, or ACPSA, looked at 36 industries that contributed to America’s arts and cultural economy. Some of them are considered core contributors — like museums and graphic design firms — and others are viewed as support industries [including] broadcasting. …

“When it comes to comparing states in the American West, arts and culture in Colorado ranked only behind California and Washington in terms of money made.”

More at the Denver Post, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Getty Images

I have been as keen as anyone to talk about the arts in terms of their economic contributions to communities. (You have to defend the arts in the language people understand.) But in the end, a focus on economic return is limiting. There are other values on the spectrum from “art for art’s sake” to “art for the economy’s sake.”

How about art for wonder’s sake, joy’s sake, self-expression’s sake, mystery’s sake — for the sake of just seeing what comes out and where it leads?

Over in Scotland, Tiffany Jenkins of The Scotsman is having a fit about Maria Miller, the Scottish Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Sport?!), who expressed her own take on the arts in a recent speech.

Says Jenkins, “The speech began with the right noises – ‘culture educates, entertains and it enriches’ – but quickly took a wrong turn, concentrating on what culture can ‘deliver,’ specifically for the economy, using sentences such as: ‘It allows us to build international relationships, forging a foundation for the trade deals of tomorrow.’ ”


“It matters,” writes Jenkins, “because of what happened with the funding body Creative Scotland, where there was a major negative reaction … in part due to an agenda that instructed the arts to be about the economy …

“To her credit Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs for Scotland, was reported on Twitter responding to Miller’s speech stating: ‘The Scottish Government does not see arts and culture as a commodity.’ …

“That the arts are central to the economy is not an isolated idea, or a new one. … [But] it is a philistine approach that misses the value and point of culture. It is true that the Edinburgh festivals, for example, bring a strong financial return. … But even in this case, the financial return is not the best thing about the festivals – or why people come back every year to perform or to watch. They do it because they love it, enjoy it and are driven to participate in something meaningful. …

“Let us not forget the economic climate in which the Arts Council was established. This was a period in the 1940s, after a devastating war, when Britain was in a dire financial situation. The funding body was set up not to use the arts to get the country out of the economic crisis, in the blunt instrumental terms they are discussed today, but to stimulate ‘the best’ work.

“Economist John Maynard Keynes, the council’s first chairman, wanted to bring forth a ‘creative renaissance’ that was artist led, and acted at ‘arm’s length’ from the government, a vision that I would have no trouble with if it were realized today.” But it isn’t, complains Jenkins. Many of her concerns are pretty universal.  More.

It’s an argument we will never hear the end of, having been debated in every generation. I am coming down firmly on the side of “yes, and…”

In other words, the arts can be great for the economy, but that is just the tiniest part of why they are great.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been enjoying the album “On the Road from Appomattox,” the latest release of outstanding local bluegrass band Southern Rail.

I’ve also been asking myself what makes a song on the album, “Mr. Beford’s Barn,” so moving.

An old man comes to the narrator’s farm and says he wants to see the barn he helped his daddy build years ago. The barn is very solidly constructed, nearly 100 years old now, and the refrain says it will probably last another hundred years.

It makes a person think about how fine it is to make something that lasts hundreds of years. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if maybe the hundred-year-ness is not what’s moving.

The old man will not be there for hundreds of years and will not be enjoying the fact that the barn lasted so long. The reason he wants to see it is that he knows he helped make something that’s very fine. It’s the well-built-ness that is valuable. The hundreds of years are merely a feature of the value.

I think you will like the song. Although it is not on YouTube, the band lists its YouTube songs here, and you might want to listen to a few if you are thinking of buying Appomattox.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: