Monday, June 5, 2023

Frank Stella on Resale Rights: “American visual artist is low man on the totem pole”

Frank Stella takes on art institutions and their dependence on, and exploitation of, visual artists in his new article for The Art Newspaper. Stella comments that after he attended this year’s World Copyright Summit in Brussels this past June, he realized how far behind, and below, visual artists are economically compared to other artists (musicians, filmmakers, writers). Stella believes copyright provides a valid and suitable form of protection to artists, but would like to add national resale rights (“droit de suite”) in the U.S.

Given the art world in its current state, the American visual artist is low man on the totem pole. In the larger, more sophisticated world of intellectual property rights and creative copyright enforcement—in literature, music, film, computer programming and patent protection—the American visual artist is again way behind.

The artists’ depressed position in the copyright world makes an unpleasant image. Massed above the artist in the art world are museums, exhibition halls, educational institutions, auction houses, art dealers, collectors, speculators, forgers and—the most recent menace—art fairs. Why is this community so reluctant to help those on whom they are ultimately dependent?

Stella’s comparison of visual artists to other artists is one we have championed for quite some time, analogizing it to the radical artistic and economic structure that musicians set up thanks to the rise of the internet. Presented with different problems, the visual art community would be wise to learn from the autonomous space created by musicians, and the freedom (and problems) it engendered.

Via The Art Newspaper.


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  • Thanks you for sharing such a fabulous article with us.
    I agree with the content that written into the article.

  • Paul,
    You’re very welcome. Thanks for visiting our site!

    All best,

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