A few months ago, I received an email for an individual in search of an artwork. The piece was created part of a fundraiser for a San Francisco foundation in 2004. Artists were paid a small stipend to paint on a large custom fabrication. The finished sculptures were displayed around San Francisco and auctioned off at a fancy event in which the creators were not allowed to attend.
But where are the pieces today?
The gentlemen who contacted me is looking for my sculpture. He wanted to take photos part of a family adventure. However, I had no idea of its location. One rumor indicated that it had ended up on the East Coast at an automotive paint store. But, that can’t be verified.
It’s not an uncommon practice for galleries, institutions, and philanthropic organizations to withhold client information when a piece sells. Luckily, I’ve worked with some galleries that share contact data. However, this isn’t the norm and this continued practice leaves artists in the dark.
Getting older, I want to know the locations of my art for inventory and record keeping. Unfortunately, venues fear that artists will spam “their client” with correspondence and try to make sales without their commission. According to Benjamin Franklin: “The rotten apple spoils his companions.” Well, one artist’s obnoxious behavior shouldn’t shut the doors of communication for everyone.
This thinking doesn’t mimic today’s shopping experience. For example, anything bought online results in retailers spying on consumer’s habits. If I purchase something at store X, that company’s advertisement will appear on a banner while on Facebook, Yahoo, and the list goes on. In addition, mailings will also appear in email and/or physical form. Privacy for consumers in every other market from purchasing a cup of coffee to a home is virtually nonexistent.
Bottom line: an artist is selling a product and like most companies nowadays has every right to client contact information.
When I emailed the foundation requesting information of the artwork’s location this was the response:
“Hi Jenny –
Unfortunately, your xxxx went to a private buyer in 2004.
We don’t track the locations of all the xxx once they are purchased.
The above answer is disingenuous and lazy. Every time a company sells a item, that client is informed of upcoming events ($$$) or put on a marketing list ($$$). Artists are expected to create pieces for organizations for little or no pay. In return, they’ll receive “exposure” that will lead to fame. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Not sharing information but expecting quality donations destroys a transparent partnership. This hurts artists and a public that wants to share an experience.
Tony Bennett might have left his heart in San Francisco but where is mine?