Friday, December 19, 2008

Maybe it depends on how you define "profit"

Brett Littman, the executive director of The Drawing Center, writes in The Art Newspaper about "one of the most complicated and thorny issues in the museum world today," namely, "Who owns a work of art that is produced, developed and partially or fully paid for by an institution? At the end of the exhibition, should the work be given to the artist with no strings attached to sell later in a commercial gallery?"

He says there is "no clear consensus" among museum directors, and notes that "some" institutions require the artist (or her dealer) "to reimburse their investment in the production of the work when it is sold." (Though he adds that "one big problem with this method is ... that most small museums have difficulty tracking the works’ sale, and it is often difficult to collect the payment especially if the work has taken a long time to find its way to market.")