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Art technicians: The industry’s dirty secret, or all part of the process? (independent.co.uk)
136 points by pmoriarty 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 154 comments

One of the longstanding examples of this that immediately sprung to mind is Dale Chihuly (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Chihuly), the renown glass sculptor.

Except Chihuly has not physically produced ANY of the glass sculptures attributed to him since 1979: "...he continued to blow glass until he dislocated his right shoulder in a 1979 bodysurfing accident. No longer able to hold the glass blowing pipe, he hired others to do the work."

It's an interesting thought experiment about what art actually IS: is art the idea behind the piece? Is it the skill that the individual has in physically bringing the piece to life? If the person with the vision doesn't physically produce the outcome, is it still their art?

It's pretty easy to sit back and say "No, of course not, if you only have the vision and don't do any of the work, then you don't get all of the credit!" And yet, think about how this translates over to the technology world. Whose name is associated with the iPhone? Steve Jobs. Did he, alone, design all aspects of the device? Perhaps. Did he code every chip, bevel every edge, sketch every wireframe? No. Did it come to fruition in a vacuum? Of course not, and yet very few of us can name any of the other individuals who collaborated with Jobs. Does Steve Jobs deserve credit for the invention? Of course, and he signed off on every design decision and charted the course for the device to come into existence. However, he was not an independent actor, but a spearheading collaborator with a very large team coming together to work on one project. And yet, Steve Jobs is the name we know.

So in that vein, is Dale Chihuly an artist? If he only designs the pieces (and from what I've seen, "designing" consists of vaguely sketching out colored shapes on large pieces of paper and then overseeing all of the glassblowers who make the various parts of his sculptures) but he never physically produces ANY of the sculptures attributed to his name, does he deserve all of the credit? If he oversees the whole process, start to finish, and has final say on every single aspect of the sculpture, should he be lauded for his vision even though it was not his effort that brought that vision to life?

>> It's an interesting thought experiment about what art actually IS: is art the idea behind the piece? Is it the skill that the individual has in physically bringing the piece to life? If the person with the vision doesn't physically produce the outcome, is it still their art?

I sincerely enjoy the fact that people regularly visiting Hacker News think that is an "interesting thought experiment", in the context of art.

Isn't that an interesting thought experiment to question what does a CEO do, for example? But it isn't, since people on HN are mostly familiar in detail with what a CEO does. On the other hand art is somehow assumed to be a special case in our world.

These are two absolutely equivalent questions.

>>On the other hand art is somehow assumed to be a special case in our world.

I think this is most due to a romanticized vision of what an artist really is/does. When people think artist, they think of the starving-artist stereotype - locked away alone in their studio pursuing their passion and living in poverty to 'do what they love'. Or, the crazy-genius archetype (think Van Gogh). People attribute creativity to 'natural talent' or 'artistic genius', when it's really a skill that can be sharpened the same as running a business like a CEO would.

Craftsmanship and creative vision are two sides of the same coin art, just as they are in business. You can have a killer business idea, but it's worth nothing without proper execution. The same goes if you are a skilled programmer but have no vision on how to sell your skills.

> when it's really a skill that can be sharpened the same as running a business like a CEO would

Running a business is not the same as visual art, literature, mathematics, physics. Most people will spend years sharpening their skills at these things and never produce something of note. It's not romantic to say this, it's just the way it is.

Except we attribute the product to the company, not the CEO. Wouldn't the equivalent be "This is a MyArtStudio piece of art", rather than "this is a piece of art by pdpi"?

We identify and categorize products through branding, which often has very little to do with their corporate origin. The artist's name (and their story) is a brand.

But, I wonder, once the “artist” dies, can the brand continue to produce with the same or better renown?

I haven't read a Tom Clancy book in ages, but it was just very recently I learned that he had died, and that the books with Tom Clancy written all over them in the airports in fact were not written by him.

If you see "Tom Clancy" on the cover he probably wrote it but if you see "Tom Clancy's" that's a sign that somebody licensed his name. The same for Sid Meier's Civilization and such.

look at fashion designers. almost all big brands still carry the name of one dead "artist" (eg. Channel). And in some cases, the living artist even sell the name so this happen sooner (e.g. marc jacobs, kate spade)

I think you make a good point, although these have been more brands in the traditional sense who hire designers (who after making their mark) go off and found their own design house with new up and coming designers...

Once most movies have digital reconstructions of dead actors, identity will lose meaning and I think we'll start seeing new works by picasso.

this won't happen with paintings because paintings are not art. They are artificially rare investments. The (financial) powers that makes a painter relevant will ensure new works, even if what you suggest happens, will never carry any value as it implies dissolving the value of previous works. Its the same mechanism that makes only dead painters world famous.

You can't imagine some marketing firm deciding to call new works "Effluvia, by Pablo Picasso"? No arguing it wouldn't have the value of an original, but I'd wager everything it would sell for more than the same thing by Josh Leap.

I'm thinking black webpages with pencil thin white fonts. You have to scroll down like 3 meters of page before you get to any content, it's just tag lines every break, staggered on either side of the page.

"After more than a century" "We revived the master" "Witness history being made at <blahhbhablh> on <date>"

Then they hold an auction, pay a descendant or two some money and book their trip to Aspen.

I can imagine the art world rejecting a newly produced work by Picasso. In fact, it’s already happened: many forgeries have been made and disclaimed over the years. The difference is just that a truly new “Picasso,” marketed for what it is would not land anyone in prison.

Picasso is kind of an interesting example. In his later years, he got involved in ceramics, working with a small factory in the south of France. He turned out hundreds of designs, some made by the factory artisans in editions that ran into the 100s of copies.

For years they were ignored, but they've been growing steadily in value as they come to be seen as worthy Picasso works in their own rights.

They aren't really "new" Picassos, but they hadn't been considered as valid as they are now.


I'm not talking about forgeries, I'm talking about paying artists to ghost draw for you, and coming up with flowery language to obfuscate, but not defraud the fact it is a "re-imagining". Think the albums released by Tupac since his death.

If you want some added legitimacy, drop a paint chip from an authentic Picasso into the mix, homeopathy style. If no one will let you do that, pay someone with some Picasso's to let you leave your paintings in the same room as them for a few weeks. Then, pay someone to write on behalf of the people who did the painting to say they "felt Pablo's spirit working through them, guiding their hand."

Get a descendant to sign off on how emotionally impactful and authentic the whole thing feels and I think you've got a high 5, low six figure painting. Do like 5 of them for your grand debut and I think we have a real RoI.

Yeah a ton of real artists will loudly decry it, articles will be written, teeth will gnash -- but I think they would sell with little to no difficulty.

I think this vision of the future is a little too despondent for my first cup of coffee.

Sorry if I brought you down. Despondent is where I tend to go when I prognosticate. There's nothing sacred when it comes to people making money.

Damien Hirst has dozens of technicians and they crank out paintings for him.


You make a strong point, but I would argue there's more subtlety than you acknowledge. At least there are other metaphors that might shed light on the idea of agency.

For one, there's the coach of a team sport. We don't say that the coach played the game, but we do credit them with being a vital part of the team's success or failure. These artists seem more like coaches than CEOs to me.

One big difference between artists and both CEOs and coaches is that the products of an artists are standalone, enduring (except for some new media works) pieces. And I think that difference makes artists and the analysis of a technician in the production of any piece a somewhat unique situation.

A coach is different because the players get one chance to play the game. Art can be redone as many times as you have the time and resources for. When doing that directing the iterations and making the final selection becomes the important thing. For example, take this piece from the GP:


How much credit Chihuly deserves varies wildly with how that piece was made. If he had merely said "Make me some yellow/orangish flowers" then he doesn't deserve much credit. If the ~40 flowers we see were the result of 1,000 attempts with him directing ("Make this one 1" bigger, this one less orange" etc.) then he deserves almost all the credit.

A common idiom on HN is that "ideas are cheap". The artist has the ideas, we often naively credit then with the implementation too; the implementation isn't 'the easy bit', it's an essential part of creating an artistic work.

Duchamp's fountain is a fine idea that continues to inspire newcomers to that age-old what-is-art question; but truly the material science and manufacturing process and craftsmanship that went in to that urinals design and production are a cause celebre - greater than Duchamp's idea by far IMO.

Now reflect on Warhol's prints; derivative instead of visual design rather than artefact production. But Warhol designed and created the works.

IMO: commissioning art doesn't make you the artist of a final work that required artistic and crafting input from others. Warhol is the artist of his self-made silk prints; Duchamp's input to Fountain is curating, or social commentary.

The same is true in architecture,"Wren's" St. Paul's Cathedral would be nothing without the skilled masons. There's a line there somewhere though -- I wouldn't include the sandwich makers, the steeplejacks, et al., A amongst the creators of that work, ...

(This all brings to mind Gaia Hypothesis.)

Ah, says the modern artist, but the art I create is the image/idea in your mind and the medium I use is other artists and craftsmen ...

This is a little egotistical of you I think. It is only your opinion. A CEO is generally in charge of maintaining something that already exists. An artist is creating something from nothing. Maybe a 'founder' fits your example better.

Hmm. If a composer can't personally play or direct his/her piece (e.g. a symphony), is it still composer's art?

The generally accepted answer is "yes, this is composer's art". But it's also generally accepted that those who render the piece also take part in the art, in a different way. The bigger the influence, the more noticeable part it is. You don't normally ask who plays particular violins in an orchestra string group, but you do notice the first violin, and the director; you say "Gould plays Bach", or you say "Band N covers band M's hit". The influence of the performer is very visible, and makes a lot of difference. Still, without the composer's art, their performance would not be possible.

I don't see why this parallel can't apply to other collectively performed art (or any activity).

Extremely well put. Part of the reason I wrote my original comment was to see what the HN collective thought about my reasoning- as I have personally struggled to think of Dale Chihuly as being an artist once I found out that he does not actually create the works that bear his name.

Likening him to a composer directing his own symphony makes a lot more sense- no one would argue that Mozart wasn't a great artist just because he couldn't play the whole symphony by himself.

I think this is a really strong analogy. I would love to see a truthful gallery label such as "_Red Ruby_ by The Washington State Glassblowers, Designed and Conducted by Dale Chihuly".

Composer here. This is a terrible analogy. Whether or not a composer can/does perform a piece has absolutely nothing to do with authorship -- do we expect a writer to read aloud their novel?

A better question to ask is, "If the composer merely told others what to write, is it actually the composer's music?" This is an unbelievably common practice, and IMO, the answer to the question is no.

What listeners get is not sheet music, it's performed music.

To me it's like an artist provides a detailed plan of how to build a monument, and then certified builders actually construct it.

Of course if an artist just gives a few rough sketches, and then a civil engineer provides the detailed drawings, and the builders construct the monument by them, then the artist is a co-author at best.

I don't know how specific D. Chihuly was in his instructions. I just think that such a separation of labor is possible, when the artist does the artistic stuff, and a performer follows on with the technical execution. In an extreme case, a machine (such as a music box) can play Bach, but that machine can't play without Bach having written the notes.

Speaking just as a hobbyist glassblower (I'm not talking about pipes, but rather furnace glass, of the type Chihuly works with):

It is important to point out that glassblowing is a team-focused effort from the very beginning. Although it is possible to work solo, it makes everything many times harder, and on top of that, makes many standard moves impossible to perform. Even the simplest transfer of a cup form to a punty is best done with at least one assistant, and for wraps and handles, having someone able to take a dip and prep the pull while you work on the main piece is a practical necessity. The Corning Museum of Glass has excellent videos of master gaffers at work that show just what a team effort any form is.


Great fun to watch if you're even slightly interested in glassblowing.

I don't think this is an interesting thought experiment. You need not fully create a work of art to be an artist. Do you care that a photographer used a Canon DSLR, translated the sensor data to a JPEG using Adobe RAW, and printed using an Epson printer? No. The art is the photograph and the non-artistic tasks were farmed out to Canon, Adobe, and Epson.

Surely we don't credit the canvas and brush for a painting?

The music industry seems to have a pretty good solution for this.

The performer gets a cut. The lyrics writer gets a cut. The melody writer gets a cut.

I'm sure something similar could work.

I'm also recovering from just finding out that the process I thought happened behind artwork was largely false, and has more in common with renaissance painting businesses than the title artists work.

And the people who only contributed financing gets a bigger cut just for already being rich.

Yeah, taking all the risk if the project fails is just their job for having the unmitigated temerity to be rich.

So media tycoons are getting washed up, rather than getting continued returns?

No, of course not: this is why we've had ever increasing numbers of sequels, remakes, franchise films and such. Why lots of heavily promoted music is highly derivative.

Sure, some people invest in riskier stuff, on the hope of much greater returns.

What are they risking, will they suffer in any meaningful way if the project fails?

They get a bigger cut because they bore the most risk and were willing to support a venture that otherwise wouldn't have had the resources to happen.

Their exact cut is generally a balance between the risk, reward, and ability of the venture to happen without them.

A musician might be risking their entire livelihood; an investor risking a percentage point on their portfolio's annual profit. Bonus points if the wealth was inherited and is managed for them. Your claim just isn't true as a generality.

Risking the largest absolute financial input is not equivalent to having the highest risk unless you exclude all human value, and consider a dollar to be of equal value to all people.

I'm not talking about personal risk, I'm talking about risk of loss in absolute value, i.e. the investor is risking more capital so they claim a bigger share of the reward.

If the musician was able to provide enough capital/resources on their own by risking their entire livelihood they'd have no need for an investor and could take the entire profits of the venture for themselves.

I'm not making a moral judgement here, I'm just saying that it's a fairly straight forward logic as to why people who "only contributed financing get a bigger cut". The OP is wrong to claim they get a bigger cut because they're already rich, they get a bigger cut because they're risking more capital in the venture. It is secondary that them being rich means they have more capital available to take risks.

I mean it's also the fact that there are plenty more musicians willing to "risk their entire livelihood" that bring their price down.

Bigger musicians will fetch high prices and in some cases, take on the financial "risk" (almost none since they're a superstar) themselves.

Also, its not like a single bad song is going to ruin a career. Clearly you haven't heard an album from the front to the back if you think that.

Right, but does the drummer bought in get a cut? Or the bass player? No, if they aren't part of the band.

It depends how you see everyone's contributions here... in some cases it seems a little bit like an album being attributed to EMI Records.

Some art is just too big for a single artist. A lot of renisance artists had many apprentices helping out, so this goes back a ways.

Chihuly has litigated and been litigated against by his helpers. His “ paintings” aren’t done by him either. It’s almost like he is a brand.


Wow, that article led me to the artist Bob Kuster (http://bellemeadhotglass.com/gallery/glass-chandeliers/), "who's making chandeliers so closely related to Chihuly's that Chihuly frowned when he saw them in black-and-white, photocopied reproduction and asked, 'Are those mine?'"

That opens up another interesting thought process of which is more art, the chandeliers created by Chihuly's hired glassblowers directed by Chihuly himself, or the chandeliers inspired by Chihuly designs which are physically created by Kuster? What imbues a Chihuly design with "art"-ness? The fact that Chihuly signed off on it personally? The fact it was created in his studio and received his blessing?

Good find. Very “Chihuly” like glass (I saw the Chihuly exhibit around the grounds of the Brooklyn botanical gardens). Too close in my humble opinion: you can be inspired by someone but you have to bring something new to it.

The market seems to like the price of this imatation art however..

I have no answers to the question you pose but they are interesting to think about.

Funny this comes up. I've recently become friends with someone who worked for Chihuly, doing precisely this.

They have commented on how the "technicians" put a lot of effort and research into turning Chihuly's designs into a piece of glass. They aren't just "cranking it out"; they're figuring out how the pieces can be made, in the first place.

This is without getting into personalties, beyond this rhetorical tease of a sentence.

Exactly! So if all Chihuly does is take a crayon to a piece of paper and say "Make this thing!", but your friend and others like your friend do the heavy lifting to bring the idea to life, is Chihuly that great of an artist after all?

Well, I don't know whether I'd go that far. And we haven't talked about it extensively -- just for a few minutes.

With Chihuly, as well, the accident really did limit his own physical capabilities.

A lot of people enjoy the work. I saw one of the first "garden" shows, years ago at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, and it was amazing.

But, people should keep in mind that it's a team effort. And the PR might do a bit more to highlight that, as well.

A director still makes the movie, despite never appearing on film or touching the camera. Design and oversight can be a large part of the finished product. There's no doubt that Chihuly is an artist despite never touching the pieces. He's not their only artist, though. I think that his technicians should be demanding credit. Movies come with credits, why shouldn't other forms of collaborative art?

As to the specific case: living in Seattle, I heard nothing but bad things about Chihuly himself, and experienced it firsthand; he was presenting at a Sounders game, and had made a piece to be given to the opposing team. About halfway through the first half I headed in for a snack and the club was dead except him ordering something in front of me. While they were getting his order he turned and looked at me, and I said something simple and nice about his piece. He scoffed dismissively and his handler moved between us. Just came across as snotty.

Chihuly is a bit different from other artists that have art technicians make the work for them. Chihuly is a skilled glassblower as are the others on the team and they are all internationally recognized. Glassblowing is a craft so has a history of technical craftsmen.

Modern art does not have that craftsman history but is more known for the 'lone genius'. Public sculpture is a little bit different as it does often require access to industrial tools and materials. Tony Smith would sketch plans for his steel sculptures and send them to an industrial fabricator.

I feel like the more apt analogy would be that of a movie director, since we hold movies to be art of a sort already, but accept the fact that it's just an implementation of an idea.

So there’s basically three different definitions of art:

- A work of art, i.e. an artifact

- The skill used to create something

- Something original that changes another person

When we talk about an artist we’re usually talking about the last definition. So technical skill might be required, but the person with the technical skill isn’t necessarily the artist.

E.g. before Jeff Koons went into art he was one of the most talented commodity salespeople of all time. That skill is really the basis of his art, not polishing the metal or whatever.

I'd put that kind of contribution on about the same level as the conductor for an orchestra or the director for a movie or play. The same piece of music played by the same musicians can have noticeable differences depending on the conductor. Similarly, choosing a different director can have a noticeable impact on a movie or play despite having the same script and cast.

I get your point but look at movies. While a movie is usually the directors, there's a ten minute scroll of credits at the end.

When AI Weiwei has millions of marbles produced for an art installation we all know he didn't make them, but the examples in this articles are mostly artist taking full ownership of the entire process.

I'd say in both cases it's pretty much a no. To take another example, producers have input into a movie but nobody would credit them as the sole or even primary movers.

You do get movies that are credited mainly to one person, primarily as a marketing thing, but still.

(In showing my age here, but first movie examples that spring to mind) Steven King's ..., Steven Spielberg's ..., I'm not sure if they're all called Steven though.

Some artists get credit akin to celebrity authors on books a ghost-writer wrote.

Of course, but my contention here is that the director of a movie or the author of a book it's based on has a substantial contribution to driving the work and it is essentially his "vision," while in some of the cases described in this article what is happening is more that an "artist" is putting their name on someone else's work to which they made little contribution.

Prominent artists having an array of assistants and understudies who do most of the detailing, while they themselves focus on more important matters like choice of subject, medium, technique and composition seems to have been the practice in the times of the Florentine and Roman masters, as I read from "Agony and Ecstacy".

Even architects do something similar, did Zada Hadid design every cornice and every pillar? I guess its the same with law firms also.

As an artist, this article makes me so upset.

The people doing the actual work should be getting credit.

Of course the people coming up with the ideas should be getting credit too.

When one person comes up with the idea and another with product, it's a collaborative work and credit should be shared.

Artists who try to pass off a work they merely collaborated on as exclusively their own are despicable.

In software development I tend to believe that the idea is not particularly valuable. The real value is being able to implement an idea effectively. That is what makes a great product work.

It is striking how differently the art technicians in this article think. They see the idea as having all the intrinsic value. More cynically I wonder if it is really the marketing value of a big name rather than the quality of ideas that count. A great idea by an art student is far less valuable than a great idea from a famous painter or sculptor.

“Very little is actually about execution, because the execution's primary purpose is to represent the idea. It's the actual idea that contains the values.” This quote from the article is a strange reflection of what the world of software development teaches.

My take on it is that it is the artist that brings the idea and make it come to light, they do this by letting other people do the work but they are still the visionaries and in charge of the execution of art.

Good examples of ideas and execution is plentyfull in both software and art, just because you get both of them right doesn't mean you will succeed.

This just doesn’t represent reality of contemporary art. It’s a bullshitters game. These artists almost never even have a vision that is important to them. They behave as such, but the project motivations are consistently reflexive. They are just a response to what they thing will help their recognition. This is just not about expression.

Historically, this is extremely wrong. Renaissance artists were the technicians of course. That’s what they were known for.

This is the rot of an industry built on extracting funds from overly wealthy patrons with no limit to the amount of dishonesty.

"Renaissance artists were the technicians of course. That’s what they were known for."

That's only partially true.

While Renaissance masters usually had the skill to execute a fully finished work, and probably did so during their own apprenticeship, by the time they became masters they often had workshops of dozens or even hundreds of assistants who did almost all of the work for them. After the work was almost complete, the master might come in and put on some finishing touches.

There's lots of art out there these days that's misattributed to the master when it was actually done by one of his assistants in the workshop, whose training was usually centered around creating art that looked just like the master's.

The difference is that software has to be functional. You can literally call a urinal or a can of soup "art", and if your "idea" (i.e. social status) is good enough then people will believe you.

Emin's "Unmade Bed" - pretty sure that, eg from the title, was cocking-a-snook at the establishment in a "let's see what crap I can make them buy". Though it does have a place in an area of art that intrigues me, that of "uncreated" or "unconsciously created" works.

If you think Duchamp was pulling a fast one you'll probably think Emin to be some sort of queen of hustlers.

Although I am not an Entrepreneur, I have read some books and blogs around Entrepreneurship. The conses seems to be that Entrepreneurs almost universally put way to much value and weight into their idea. In business the idea isn't worth shit, the execution is.

In a capitalist system, the economic value of anything is whatever the market is willing to bear. That economic value is largely uncorrelated with any particular assessment of intrinsic value.

Like many businesses, the art business is primarily driven by marketing. The act of painting is largely orthogonal to the act of persuading an oligarch that your painting is valuable.

>The act of painting is largely orthogonal to the act of persuading an oligarch that your painting is valuable.

Which is more an indictment of the Capitalist system than anything else.

Is there a better way of assigning/determining value? Make everything equal? Randomly pick one? The first one to market wins (essentially what we have right now)?

How is that an "indictment" of "the capitalist system"?

Not necessarily. It's the same as with many creative fields.

An architect comes up with the overall concept and, if they're famous, gets their name on the building. But they still have a roomful of structural engineers figuring out how to stop it falling down.

Or a musician. Creating an album takes a team of session musicians, producers, engineers etc. But it's the artist's name that goes on the front.

It's possible to do an album on your own, but it takes knowledge of every step in the process. Otherwise you end up with levels all over the place, and people stop listening at the first song that's too much louder than the others.

Major difference between making an album and handing it off to a producer or sound engineer. Pretty poor comparison.

As a former artist I agree.

I think what people don't see when they compare art to another industry like software, engineering or architecture in their examples is just how much work will go into a specific piece of art and just how corrupt the current art establishment is.

Technical skill is hidden away to the point where people don't even really know the involvement of artists when it comes to stuff like art technicians. In fact I had a tough time convincing people I know that cgi isn't "all done by computers" and that actually the level of raw artistic skill in videogames is unbelievably high.

I think it's right to be upset about credit being apportioned fairly. If a person is able to pretend they created a work of art whilst someone else profits off of it then that behavior will only be encouraged. Fundamentally though the decision does rest with the individual artists in question who offer their work up to people who give them no recognition. Ultimately if they're ok with it then perhaps there isn't a problem, but if not, then they should find a way in which to work where they are fairly rewarded for their efforts. Expecting the system to change or expecting people to stop taking advantage of others is unlikely to change anything.

Not to undermine the technicians, but there is a certain view to it. Let's say an artist comes up with an idea for an intricate lounge chair. It takes them two days to sketch it on paper. Art technician and manufacturing engineer work together to draw "schematics" of the chair in some CAD software to actually manufacture the chair, which takes them full two months of labor. Would their work be more or less significant if it was generic stool?

I wish the crews would receive more credit as well.

A good analogy would be if Hollywood films didn't list credits and pretended that only the director worked on the film and did everything by themselves.

It would be insulting for people to believe that a director did 100% of the work on one of their films and ignored the entire crew. Not sure why this doesn't apply to the art world where teams are way more common than people believe.

Do you know the names of the people who produced the marketing campaigns that sold the film to audiences? Highly unlikely, no one ever knows those names....

I don't understand the point you are trying to make.

It's still partially this way, though. Credits in films are often unreliable or incomplete. Rather than simply being a record of history, credits are political and mingled with money, just like everything else.

If the technicians want credit, they should put it into the contract. If their input into it is a bought-and-sold commodity, which it seems to be, then they’re being paid in lieu of credit. Ghost writers will get paid different amounts depending on if they get to self-attribute or not.

I guess the technician also gets paid regardless of whether the piece is well-received or sells for a high price. So the artist is also taking all of the risk.

I would agree, very strongly (I do a fair bit of fine art painting besides my software engineering day job).

If so and so has the idea and so and so executes it, the there is a director and an artist working under the director. It seems extremely clear that to use assistants for more than grunt work and calling the finished product your own solo piece is quite dishonest. If we're all so obsessed with the Romantic ideal of the lone genius ala van Gogh, that's both ahistorical and silly of us.

Isn’t this kinda like the the difference between a chef and a cook?

Many cooks work for a chef, and some grow on to become chefs.

Not at all. The technicians get no credit; never actually have any chance to “grow on”.

Anything a sous chef invents becomes the creation of the chef they are working under.

A few friends have worked as technicians for a very well known British artist.

As far as I can see he pretty much hires every art graduate within a reasonable radius of his art factory. They do the majority of the production work, to his specifications. Eventually they get bored and leave to do their own stuff.

Another guy I know is a sort of 'special projects' consultant for artists, figuring out particular logistical or engineering challenges. It sounds really fun.


Sounds a lot like academia really and the open secret in many fields that the graduate "coauthors" were really the ones who did the work and the "main author" was the do nothing but compensated and credited more professor who hypocritically starts off every course stating plagiarism will not be tolerated.

The lack of transparency is what makes both of them bad. It would be one thing if an established member vouched for someone new as a supervisor to be clear they followed existing standards of experimentation and research or explicitly admitted they went from a 1/20th scale model to a granite and steel statue with modifications because the original was structurally unsound with different materials.

> Sounds a lot like academia really and the open secret in many fields that the graduate "coauthors" were really the ones who did the work and the "main author" was the do nothing but compensated and credited more professor

People say this a lot but I don't see it at all. The graduate students go first on the paper author list, and the professor goes last.

The graduate students wouldn't want to be listed last, because at their stage of their career they want to be seen as doing the work, and the professors wouldn't want to be listed first, because at their stage of their career they want to be seen as supervising not doing the actual work.

The system seems really clear to me, and you can give your 'credit' (what that is that you really mean, since it's a bit abstract) to whichever of those people you want.

Or you could see the research as the collaborative process that it is and credit everyone!

Pharmaceutical industry uses ghostwriters who are not even coauthors.

Medical ghostwriter

>Medical ghostwriters are employed by pharmaceutical companies and medical-device manufacturers to produce apparently independent manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations and other communications. Physicians and other scientists are paid to attach their names to the manuscripts as though they had authored them. The named authors may have had little or no involvement in the research or writing process.


>It is difficult to determine how frequently ghostwriting occurs due to its covert nature. A 2009 New York Times article estimated that 11% of New England Journal of Medicine articles, 8% of JAMA, Lancet and PLoS Medicine articles, 5% of Annals of Internal Medicine articles and 2% of Nature Medicine were ghost written.[22] Between 1998 and 2005 Wyeth had 26 papers promoting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) published in scientific journals.[23]

> Previously secret internal Wyeth documents providing evidence of this are viewable on the Drug Industry Document Archive. It also appears to have occurred in 75% of industry funded trials between 1994 - 1995 approved by the Scientific Ethical Committees for Copenhagen and Frederiksberg.[1] Of the articles published from 1998 to 2000 regarding sertraline, between 18% and 40% were ghost written by Pfizer.[1] A questionnaire using comparable methods in 2005 and 2008 with a 14-28% response rate found a decrease in number of people who reported ghostwriting among professional medical writers.[24


That comment about academia is not universally true at all. Grad students frequently get first author status on papers they do the bulk of the work on. The typical abuse that is more commonplace is the inclusion of advisors as last authors on papers that they didn’t contribute to at all (other than writing the proposal that won the funding that supported it). That’s why journals began adopting a requirement that the contribution of each author be made clear in the paper (usually a section near the end).

I actually think it's almost the opposite in my experience as a physicist. Often graduate students are given the first author position, the position which indicates the most credit, even though in many ways the graduate student is closer to a highly skilled technician following the path laid down by their more experienced professor.

The OP is right to raise questions about this in academics.

The problem is that all sorts of things happens in academics:

The grad student is first author and the professor is last author, and people see the credit that way.

The grad student is first author and the professor is last, but people see the prof as the "real" first author. Look at citation formats and explain why the last author is kept on lengthy author lists in many. It's because last author doesn't mean least work anymore. I know a colleague who quietly started jockeying to be last author on papers because he knew it was almost as/more prestigious than first.

The grad student is first and the professor is anywhere else but people assume that it's the profs work because "grad students are just learning" or some such thing.

The grad student deserves the credit but is second or third or something else because of power differentials involving all the other authors.

The grad student should be sole author because they're the one with the idea and the one who did the work but profs expect credit because they read a draft and offered some minor feedback.

A coauthor formulating and doing the analyses, without whom the paper could not exist because they were the ones translating the theories into quantifiable testable models, are left off the paper because "analyses don't deserve credit" or something.

Really, anything and everything goes in academics. It's broken. I realize that there are people/groups who practice with integrity but this is not something you can assume everywhere. Even when people are trying to have integrity, weird scenarios develop that have no good solutions.

I think this issue with art technicians vs artists is really a model of many problems with income inequality in society. The implementation matters. The people who bring it to fruition matter. They deserve credit and compensation. Ideas without execution are just ideas. I honestly can't believe we even entertain the idea that execution is valueless, or that we have discussions where people fetishize Steve Jobs so much that he's treated as the sole creator behind the iphone, as if he caused it to materialize out of thin air, and the previous phones by LG, and the engineers, and designers, and everyone else are just stupid uncreative hacks who were just following Job's orders down to the microcircuitry on the chips.

Its fraud and it's rampant in society today. For some reason we're uncomfortable with the messy reality that almost every innovation or product is the result of some distributed, collaborative effort, and often really involves many people making small contributions.


> The grad student should be sole author because they're the one with the idea and the one who did the work but profs expect credit because they read a draft and offered some minor feedback.

> For some reason we're uncomfortable with the messy reality that almost every innovation or product is the result of some distributed, collaborative effort, and often really involves many people making small contributions.

These two points seem at odds to each other, why should the professor be given no credit?

Pretty what should have been expected after we alienated skill from art.

Skill and art are not necessarily linked. It's possible to be a craftsman without being an artist, and vice versa.

Think of a fabricator as an OEM. iPhones are manufactured by Foxconn, and I'm sure their technicians contribute greatly to the manufacturing and design, but it's still the Apple logo that gets stuck on the back.

That's how industry works. I don't know the details of Iphone business model, but they could in theory let all the components be manufactured by Tier-1s, let all the software be written by outsourcers, let the design and integration be done by someone else and only leave branding and marketing to themselves. But I would kind of expect of an artist to be a little bit more than self-brand manager.

I wouldn‘t call an iPhone a piece of art though.

The Design Museum in London has pretty much everything Jony Ive ever designed in their permanent collection.

They certainly are art in this context.*

And I'd argue that Apple are one of the few tech companies that genuinely view their products as art objects, as well as being boxes of mass-produced consumer technology.

* There's a wider question about whether the mere act of displaying something in a gallery makes it art, but its one that many fine art postgrads haven't been able to get to the bottom of yet :)

I would argue that the fact it's in a design museum rather than an art museum makes it design in that context.

Speaking very broadly: Designers manifest other people's ideas for money. Art is more when you bring your own ideas into the world because you want to.

it is though. steve jobs treated it and designed it as functional art. unlike most other manufacturers. he did borrow/utilize many ideas from german artists and industrial designers (bauhaus/german modernism/braun design etc.).

so like it or not i would say that iphone is a piece of art that others loved and copied. (which is good and completely natural).

Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Skill isn't required to make or present something that has an emotional reaction. Major artists have often had external craftspeople - Leonardo Da Vinci had a workshop.

Can’t see your point at all. Leonardo is the most famous of all the artist/technologists.

OK. What specifically don't you understand? Leonardo being the most famous and still using craftspeople was my point.

“Craftspeople”? You mean his architectural work? He was, by all accounts I’m aware of, an incredibly hands-on artist. Having others help out is one thing. Having others execute is another. Having a workshop (as in, tools, bricks morter, etc.) is just par for the course.

Can you point out an artefact that he instructed someone to make and then labelled as his own artwork? Or indeed a piece still called a DaVinci that it's accepted he has no hands-on input to.

FWIW we're not taking about apprentices doing blocking-in, backgrounds, or minor characters.

This seems like one of those severts revealed to stories where it is only a "secret" to people who don't think about the topic, aren't paying attention, and for whom it doesn't matter...

I'm by no means an art expert, but I'm surprised that people would be surprised.

The local TV show that covers artists always shows their assistants and such working with them and outright producing the art.

When I've gone on visits to artists studios often the assistants are there, they are all upfront about what they do, and / or the artist talks about who else they work with (send the concept to others to produce) to make larger size and quantity pieces depending on the project.

I have never felt there was any attempt to hide any of it...

>'I can't believe they're not making that stuff, you're making it, so you're the artist, not them'. I think that's what the general population thinks.”

Yes, that's sure as hell what I thought. I mean, the whole point of being an artist is you create the work.

It's a lot less talent to tell someone what to do.

This article left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Art apprenticeship has existed since Caravaggio's time and beyond. But one relatively modern phenom is that you don't see artists assistants emerging after their period of indenture as stars themselves. People tend to get plucked for glory right out of school. Or they themselves hustle and blow up via Instagram. But you'll meet plenty of technicians in NYC at least who have been working in that role for 10+ years. Without emerging with a name or career of their own.

Reposting an old comment. The art world obeys supply and demand - where demand has no relation to the real world. Damien Hirst is a marketing genius. He needs a factory to build his art, much like Porsche.

If you are more curious about the contemporary art world market and why $29M is not that expensive[1], I recommend "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art". In general, brand (in this case Christie's and Sotheby's) ranks supreme above all else. Once you are branded, you can pretty much sell anything as expensive art. Also, an interesting factoid - when we hear of Far East/Middle East buyers bidding tens of millions (or more) for a painting, we naturally tend to think - who buys that without seeing it - but as the book points out - the painting has most likely gone to see the buyer already (e.g. Dubai/Hong Kong pre-auction private tour).

Excerpts from the book:

"Money itself has little meaning in the upper echelons of the art world -- everyone has it. What impresses is ownership of a rare and treasured work such as Jasper Johns' 1958 White Flag. The person who owns it (currently Michael Ovitz in Los Angeles) is above the art crowd, untouchable. What the rich seem to want to acquire is what economists call positional good; things that prove to the rest of the world that they really are rich."

Jasper Johns' White Flag



Estimates on the artist economy: "40k artists resident in London (about same number in NYC)

For London and NYC each: 75 superstar artists (>$1M/yr income)

300 mature, successful artists (>$100k/yr income)

5,000 part time artists (need to supplement their income)"


[1] "If a great apartment costs $30 million, than a Rothko [big deal famous contemporary artist] that hangs in the featured spot in the living room can also be worth $30 million - as much as the value of the apartment. But no one could envision a $72.8 million apartment to use for comparison..."

Several years ago, the NY Times had an article by a fellow hired to work for Jeff Koons, who apparently designs but does not produce "his" work, something well known to those who care. The gig ended in failure, when the piece he was working on toppled. Koons apparently held no grudge.

Anyway, you could look it up: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/magazine/i-was-jeff-koons...

What seems missing here and in the article is the way in which an Artist’s physical interaction with media affect their ideas - it’s a feedback loop.

I think an Artist with huge experience of certain materials and processes can readily outsource work but I think an artist working solely in the idea sphere misses an opportunity for development.

I often think of David Lynch trying and failing to do the Elephant Man makeup himself and then yielding to a specialist - he must have learned and thought a lot about what he wanted doing that.

The really interesting in this is not the question of authorship (whoever is paying gets the credit; whomever is getting paid can maybe get gracious acknowledgement), itś the concept/process duality. I.e.

1) Whether things are fully defined by concepts (and therefore symbolic representation) or whether there's something to objects that's fundamentally process-oriented; (this comes closer do Hubert Dreyfus' critique of AI)

2) Whether concepts themselves can be conceived as products of pure ideation, or whether there is the "concept-making process" of which concept-makers are technicians (this comes perhaps as a critique of pure conceptual art; for one, every pure mathematician knows you learn the stuff by doing and acquiring instincts), and, conversely

3) Whether meaningful things can be produced as pure process, fabrication, algorithm; or whether there's a necessary conceptual aspect to processes; whether an artisan carpenter or decades-experienced plumber have a concept built into their muscle memory and analytic instincts. (This comes close to programming: why, after so much process-development, is programming still so much a creators thing?)

This is awful, of course, but nothing new. Plenty of painters sold their students’ work under their own names. Rembrandt is an example: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/arts/design/06rembrandt.h...

In my opinion, what matters is intent when it comes to wether something can be considered art or design, not skill. Art is self centered, to please your own aesthetic sense, design is centered around preferences of other people. If you e.g. paint to impress others, you're not making art, but design your own reputation as an "artist".

There used to be cartoons called "The Artist", with a little guy in an artists's smock. One was titled "Each print was produced under the personal direction and control of the artist." The artist is shown, hands on hips, watching an enormous printing press stamping out prints. That's art.

(I once visited a place in Silicon Valley which did just that. I was having boxes made for boxed software, and went to the printing plant. They had a huge multicolor press, about a hundred feet long. This could print not just four colors, but about ten. It could be loaded with inks of different specularity, so you could get shiny gold ink effects and such. The press was busily printing collectible art prints, good ones that looked like paintings. About two per second. The plant mostly did software boxes, but on slow days, they cranked out art.)

I'm a musician, and a lot of these ideas are familiar. But I wonder if the music scene is a little bit more mature or realistic (searching for a word here) about it. A work can go through a lot of different hands before it reaches an audience. People are fully aware of this. Yes, a few people get screwed, but others make an honest living as "technicians." It's been a reasonable side income for me. And except at the superstar level, the technicians might actually be doing better than the artists, especially if they can diversify their income sources a bit.

Even the instrument that I play... it bears the name of a master, but there's no secret about the fact that it was produced in a workshop, as the fiddles "made" by Stradivarius probably were.

I think music and its production is much more deeply intertwined with regular life than figurative arts.

Band is a thing from elementary school to college. So it's facially idiotic to the man on the street to call a single trumpet player "the artist".

The apparatus to deliver a major pop event is very visible, literally. And it's also obvious that the band didn't put up the stacks of speakers, run the mixing board, etc.

Whereas for a sculpture or painting, it just shows up. Voila! Often without any artist visibly involved. There's now a thing on the sidewalk, or in a museum or gallery.

There's probably a nice way to express this using the term "degrees of alienation", but I can't figure it out before I go back to work. :)

More mature or more commercial?

You're talking about making money, but no mention of making music.

A better argument is that art is getting more technical. or even just that's it's getting physically bigger.

Also, when music is commercial it's still called music.

Art stops being art when it's made for money. It becomes illustration, design, decoration or some such thing.

Historically a lot of EU or American artists are pretty much trust fund kids. because if you need to think about money all the time... you can't make art. Art requires some modicum of genuine freedom and most people need money to find it.

I'm not sure how that works for music.

> Historically a lot of EU or American artists are pretty much trust fund kids. because if you need to think about money all the time... you can't make art. Art requires some modicum of genuine freedom and most people need money to find it.

And this is why "Art For Art's Sake" was invented when the middle class began to encroach on the upper class's ownership of art and the ability to make it. After all, if your social inferiors can do something, is it really special? No. So either abandon it, or define it to be something those people can't do after all.

Even within noncommercial (e.g., academic) music, there is still certain amount of division-of-labor. Also, one person may perform multiple roles, e.g., composing their own music while also working for other musicians, doing production work, teaching, etc.

I suspect most musicians also don't draw a bright line between artistic and commercial work.

to quote Modest Mouse

"All them eager actors / gladly taking credit / For the lines created / by the people tucked away from sight"

It applies to companies as well.

> "All them eager actors / gladly taking credit / For the lines created / by the people tucked away from sight"

These days, in the sway of the auteur theory, it's more the director taking credit for the whole show, at least in the minds of critics.

Apparently, movies need authors, and the director was chosen as being authorial. Movies with one author (The Room) are seen as being better than movies which were collaborations (Citizen Kane) as the former are more tractable to the modern critical theories.

I believe that art comes from ideas, and sometimes you do need a helping hand to help them come out. Credit should still be given accordingly.

Example: Grab an album by Steve Vai (you should check him out if you don't know his music, btw)... somewhere in the album booklet you're gonna see a mention of the band members that helped him perform the music that he wrote.

What we are seeing here imho is the mixed case between hip hop (where every collab and participation is featured, to oblivion) and ghost writing in songwriting and fiction (where no one ever appears or gets credit). It's a good thing some 'ghost artists' are coming out and revealing this stuff.

This has been going on for a long time. If I'm not mistaken when Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel he would outline the major forms but he had a lot of assistants to fill in the details. So he conceived the design, drew that design on the ceiling (and I'm sure a bunch of other stuff) but the entire work did not "come from the hand of the artist"

To my mind it's about the idea and conception of the work. And when the technician improves the design or idea then that's when it moves into being a collaboration.

This is basically the plot (in my opinion, anyway) of Exit Through the Gift Shop

This is interesting but nothing new. As an artist I find the process and the intimacy with it as the most valuable part, that's where I learn and grow most. And the physical connection gives me most pleasure. I wouldn't get much value out of barking out orders and specifications to other artist technicians. On the other hand artist technicians need to eat too and it's okay that they get some work. It's embarrassing that they get no credit though but we know that is a facet of the human nature, it happens in almost every field

Much of the discussion here revolves around whether or not the artist deserves credit for creating a work if it was fabricated by other people, which I think somewhat misses the point.

The issue, I think, lies in the lack of shared credit that's granted in the art world to people whose labor and skills are utilized to realize the work.

Across most of the arts, the work of many artisans, craftspeople, technicians and workers is poured into the realization of an artwork, and across most of the arts those people receive some sort of credit. The film industry is maybe the best example here. In "cinema" the director gets top billing, but ample credit also goes to the screenwriter, cinematographer, sound designer & so on.

"Fine art" is an exception to the rule and I think this has to do with a mythology built around the artist that began in the modern era, coinciding with the movement in European painting from frescoes embedded in architectural setting to oil on canvas and the advent of the art object as a commodity. During the modern era and up through modernism, it became much more common for artists (and painters in particular) to work alone in their studios etc. etc.

Today, the role and scale of art has shifted again, and more craftspeople are often involved in the production of a single artwork than they were in the 1700s through the 1950s, but the mythology and institutional frames available remain stuck on the model of the single creator. I think this is just one of the many contradictions between material realities of contemporary art and the narratives and markets built around them. Maybe (hopefully) we're beginning to call some of that into question.

As an artist who has worked for other artists in the role of fabricator, there is a funny feeling when an artist hasn't touched (much less, seen, in one case!) the artwork that you've built for them until it's displayed under their name. In these cases I've never felt personally slighted, but it's weird knowing that only a subset of people working in the art world - artists, fabricators, gallerists, etc. - understand how many peoples' work often goes into making a big ambitious show. I think film-style credits would be an appropriate acknowledgement and some artists are actually beginning to do this.

This is essentially a branding process. Arguably it's just as bad in the tech industry: did Elon Musk really make that rocket himself? Was Steve Jobs wholly responsible for the iPhone?

Modern art is simply the craft of creating financial instruments, the only reason it's imbued with all of the imagery of sophistication and insight is because the people who buy expensive financial instruments like to think of themselves as sophisticated and insightful.

There's no difference between collecting fine art and collecting stamps. A stamp may be pretty, but its purpose is to be scarce, difficult to copy, and to have a clear provenance from a known issuer.

I have done 2 of these projects for contemporary artists. I have never experienced so many broken promises in one short period before in my life. Disgusting people.

I remember learning some unexpected facts at a Rodin exhibit several years ago. For sculptures that will be cast in metal or similar materials there is a set number of castings, I think it was 5, that can be made from a single mold and all be considered original. These castings can be made at any time, even after the artists death. This means you can have a sculptor die and still have original works being produced for several years.

Simon is a friend and he's one of the chillest and professional guys I know. He makes furniture and whole shop/office/room set ups that are fantastic. A true master craftsman. If you're into interior design porn his instagram is worth a look https://www.instagram.com/simon_harlow/?hl=en

The value of art today (and since the rise of avant-gardism) is highly contingent on context, the positioning of an object/gesture/operation within x context.

This article is essentially addressing the classic 'art vs. craft' question. From the perspective of art history, the technician, here, is not understood as the artist. She is understood as a skilled laborer who will be properly remunerated upon completion of her work (regardless if the work sells).

The other individual is understood to be the artist because it is she who 1) had the initial will/reason to make the work, 2) conceived of the idea and the object-form that this idea would take, 3) will assume risk for the work even if it 'fails,' and it is through _her_ history of production (and not that of the technician's) that the work will be valued and possibly historicized.

The canonical reference for the 'art vs. craft' question is Duchamp, who in 1914 presented his "Bottle Rack" as his art (an industrially produced rack for drying bottles) and later his famed "Fountain" (an upside down porcelain urinal) deeming them "ready-mades."

A more recent example can be found in the work of Jeff Koons. See this conference from 2008 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mbnWJNUtEc "The Koons Effect: Fabrication: Between Technology and Craft"

This has a parallel to startups. You want to make a startup as a technical co-founder, but you are not the "idea man". Does the "idea man" get all the credit? Someone else conceptualizes the art and someone else, or many others, do all the work. Who gets the credit?

Artist here. An anecdotal example of what the article discusses: an acquaintance of mine works for arguably the most commercially successful sculptor/Contemporary Artist in the world. Get him drunk at a dinner party and he'll talk about his job, which consists of working to create new "forms", by which he means 3-dimensional shapes, entirely on his own. Once in a while his employer pops into the studio and says the equivalent of "that one", and then it gets enlarged, painted, and sold as the exclusive creation of his boss for millions of pounds. He'll gripe privately about what HN'ers would call "IP", but he's also got a stable job, definitely at the upper end of what technicians get paid, and at this point in his life it would be a huge risk to his family's welfare try to make it on his own as an 'Artist'.

The analogies to a CEO, coach, architect etc will fall down because in none of those jobs does she, at the end, singularly own the entire physical and intellectual property of the object created when collaboration is involved...and of course in many cases there isn't a physical 'object' but rather a performance, a set of instructions, etc. While that is the point of the article, I think it's worth highlighting because it changes how an artist behaves and works with their 'team', hidden or not. It's also representative of how unusual a field art is. Another example is simply what happens in the buying and selling of Contemporary Art...investment funds secretly colluding with galleries to prop up auction prices which they then use as new (inflated) baselines to sell work to their own clients, members of museum acquisition boards arranging for their institution to buy works of artists that they personally own, tax evasion on a massive scale, etc. Conflicts of interest that might put people in prison in other fields can sometimes be part of my normal business day.

I like reading HN discussions about art because there are always attempts to think through an issue from first principles, where those first principles are some commenter's personal definition of what art 'is'. Artists don't do that. Trying to argue about what art 'is', amongst artists, generally stops after your first year in art school because the most popular definitions of art are self-reflexive (Dickie's "Institutional Definition" is the classic one). This self-reflexivity of Art implies that the definition of an Artist is also circular...which I'd suggest makes any sort of 'standard model' of the accepted behaviour of Artists difficult to pin down. To put it another way: in my experience, Art tends to be anything on the spectrum between “What Happens” and "What Someone Will Pay For". How to codify that as a field is nebulous enough. Now imagine creating, much less enforcing, a set of ethical labour practices specific to this field. And again, instead of these circularities being immediately thrown out as they would be in many other disciplines, they are seen as a part of Art's unique character as a field itself.

I see a lot of "this is the same as my experience with x" where x is CEOs, Academic paper authors, musicians.

Is it time that we own up to the fact that nobody exists in a vacuum? Can we skip straight to the socialism part?

For as long as there have been artists, there have been apprentices. Sometimes those apprentices went on to become renowned masters, sometimes they languished in obscurity.

Except that's not even remotely the issue being discussed here.

This is about artists going to people who are already experts in their field and having them construct the art, but taking (or being given) all of the credit for it.

It's exactly what's being discussed here. Historically, this kind of operation is the norm rather than the exception. If you walk around the Louvre or the Met, a large proportion of what you see will have been painted largely or wholly by an apprentice or assistant. Many Renaissance and Baroque masters ran something akin to a factory, with each painting being the product of several artists specialising in a particular task. The idea of art as the personal product of a singular genius is largely a work of romantic mythology, continued into the present day as marketing puffery for the art industry.

Are you morally outraged that Marc Jacobs does not personally cut and sew every garment bearing his name? Are you shocked to learn that many pop stars are entirely unable to write, produce or play music?

> It's exactly what's being discussed here.

No, it's not. There is no training being given. These are not apprentices learning how to create art, they are skilled professionals carrying out work that the artist themselves is often incapable of. An apprentice learns their skills from their master and could be seen as a creation of the master, art technicians are simply there to do the work.

> Are you morally outraged that Marc Jacobs does not personally cut and sew every garment bearing his name? Are you shocked to learn that many pop stars are entirely unable to write, produce or play music?

No, and I never said I was outraged at the art technicians not getting credit, since they themselves are certainly don't seem to be. However there the public perception is that the artist who gets the credit is the one who did the majority of the work when this if often not the case.

This seems to be the reverse, the apprentice with financial resources asks the artist to build the work and then take the credit. They most likely give some headaches to the technicians when they don't know what they want or are unhappy with the results of the specifications

This happens all through society. I take credit for all sorts of things I couldn't have done without my shirt. My shirt was made by shirtmaking experts who were paid, peanuts probably, and that's good enough. So where do you draw the line? The thing about the shirt maker is that they are interchangeable, whereas I, with the things I take credit for while wearing the shirt, am not. I have authorship. The shirtmaker doesn't.

It's not about apprentices, it's about people, technicians, actually making the 'objects' for and in place of the artist whose name is linked to the 'objects'. Because often those artist don't have the technical know-how or tools to make something. So they pay someone to make it. Hence the problematic question.

I was a teen when my father did most of the technical work (of course the actual building was done by construction firms and carpenters) for this (1978) exhibition in Florence by Dani Karavan:


The artist actually sculpted everything in clay (in scale models) or made rather accurate sketches on paper, then they were adapted/modified slightly (and interactively with the artist) to make them actually "buildable" (either in wood or in pre-cast concrete) and transportable to the exhibition site.

It never came to our minds that the "art" in the scupltures was not entirely by the artist, my father considered himself an artisan, and simply executed (well and in practice) what the artist view was.

How is this different from Rembrandt slapping is name on his apprentice’s work?

Cause Rembrandt actually teached that apprentice how to do his work. Apprentice's skill is the result of master's work. That makes a huge difference to me.

> Cause Rembrandt actually teached that apprentice how to do his work.

And a modern artist told his technician how to do his work.

In this sense, I think the boundary is much more fluent. In my personal opinion, the artist is the person who has the "most established name" to sell the piece of art that he branded under his name to rich people.

Then maybe these rich people should get the credit for the piece of art, because it's their willingness to pay their money that makes it valuable.

What you are joking about is in my opinion much more serious than it looks like at first appearance. Why do you think so many rich people love to spend lots of money to have e.g. buildings named after them (for example at reputable universities)?

So your suggestion, of course refined gallantly in a way that makes it presentable in polite society, does not sound that absurd to me.

Considering the etymology and historic origin of "artist" as a skilled artisan. It's not even that novel an idea. Lots of things we consider art pieces are named after the buyer and not what we consider now the artist.

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