Lisa just posted the idea that the visual artists need a union.
No, seriously. If writers can have one, why not painters and sculptors?
No, you can't have scale payments for paintings (by the square foot? per hour? per bottle of vodka consumed?). But here's some things worth fighting for:
a. a health plan
b. a code of conduct for galleries -- no charging artists for "expenses," no "handshake deals," clarity that your paintings can't be locked up in court when your gallery goes bankrupt.
c. a royalty to the artist every time their work resold -- if auction houses can scoop 35% of the sales price as commission between buyer and seller, surely there could be 5% to Jasper Johns when a painting he sold in 1955 for $500 goes for millions.
Lisa made the interesting point yesterday that the two groups that most need unions are people doing jobs that nobody wants, and people doing jobs that everybody wants. Writers and actors, because we'd do it for free if we had to; and grape pickers and coal miners, because the kinds of people willing to go down into a hole in the ground already have their backs up against a wall, and can't afford to lose their jobs.
Yes, we're lucky to have our jobs. That's why we need this strike to succeed. Because once you let the studio's rollbacks go through, the slope gets oh so slippery...
Labels: guild, strike
I know nothing about how the art business works, but are the galleries the artists' employers? The same way the studios employ writers? And if so, are the galleries unified under an umbrella organization of some kind? If the answer to either of these is no, how could they form a union? Who would they bargain collectively with?
Not that they don't deserve the things you mention, but how could it work logistically speaking?
[Cross posting on Lisa's blog]
Same way the WGA works with agencies. The artists (including most of the top 200 artists, or it won't work) say, "We won't show at your gallery unless you sign our union deal." Anyone who won't sign is shut out of working with the good artists. Anyone who does sign, agrees to work with artists on certain terms.
So, do galleries work as employers to the artists?
There is this:
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