Monday, June 6, 2011

Outsourcing Art

My friend Stephanie Liner linked this on Facebook, and I almost died laughing when reading this WSJ article.  It talks about how more and more artists are using 'assistants to compose/compile/create' works that they are just adding their name to. I've heard of this happening with famous DJ's (picking tracks and having assistants or others do the actual mixing for the album recording).  Or even famous photographers just using their assistants to do the captures etc.  What is interesting is it's common to mention that some classical artists used assistants to complete their work, but they always say this in a tone that makes it seem like ALL of the great masters did.  But if you look at say Caravaggio or Vermeer, arguably two of the greatest painters ever, those guys rolled pretty much solo.  But helping is a far cry from doing ALL the work for you. Anyhow check this article out... I think this following excerpt and picture will give you an idea.

Excerpt from article:

Alexander Gorlizki is an up-and-coming artist, known for paintings that superimpose fanciful images over traditional Indian designs. His work has been displayed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Denver Art Museum and Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, among others, and sells for up to $10,000.
Mr. Gorlizki lives in New York City. The paintings are done by seven artists who work for him in Jaipur, India. "I prefer not to be involved in actually painting," says Mr. Gorlizki, who adds that it would take him 20 years to develop the skills of his chief Indian painter, Riyaz Uddin. "It liberates me not being encumbered by the technical proficiency," he says.
Here is the article The Art Assembly Line. 

I think it would be more suitable if pieces were signed TEAM X vs One Dude in these cases. However the "Illusion of Authorship" is persistant in pretty much all products we buy these days.  The difference though is art has the strongly embedded assumption that the 'artist' implies the creator.  

At least with music the song writer is credited in print somewhere.  It would be like your favorite recording artist selling a song that was written by someone else (which isn't that uncommon) but also sung and executed by some guy in Sri Lanka.  At least Rebecca Black from Friday is actually using her own mouth.

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