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Up for Discussion: Artists and Assistants

June 28, 2011 Art, News

Today’s Up for Discussion focuses on the topic of artists and assistants. First check out the article that sparked our discussion, followed by five varying opinions on the topic. Feel free to add your own opinion to the discussion by commenting on this post.

According to Stan Sesser’s Wall Street Journal article “The Art Assembly Line” (published June 3, 2011):

With the market revving up and pressure to produce higher than ever, more artists are turning to assistants for help. Who really painted that masterpiece?

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.

It’s a phenomenon that’s rarely discussed in the art world: The new work on a gallery wall wasn’t necessarily painted by the artist who signed it. Some well-known artists, such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, openly employ small armies of assistants to do their paintings and sculptures. Others hire help more quietly.

Art-market insiders say soaring prices and demand for contemporary art is spurring the use of apprentices by more artists. The art world is divided on the practice: While some collectors and dealers put a premium on paintings and sculptures executed by an artist’s own hand, others say that assistants are a necessity in the contemporary market…

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