I recently read an article on Artnet about a museum dumping one artist’s artwork without telling her – “Sculpture From the 1970s—Without Telling the Artist”.
As an artist I absolutely relate to the shock that the artist herself experienced when she got to know about it. This example clearly points to the continuous question of whether an artist has the right to know what happens to his/her artworks once they are displayed, exhibited or decided to be stored, or reconstructed, thrown out.
An artwork is not simply an object like anything else. It is the materialization of an artist’s artistical expression, a condensation of all beliefs, thoughts, emotions, life experiment into one moment of realization. It symbolises the life energy in form that an artist has put out for the world to experience it as well.
When this piece of “condensed” life energy is put out on public display in a museum, a collection it is on a “mission” to communicate to everyone who has the chance to see it. Once this so called mission for whatever reason ends, the artist should get information about its destiny about its after life.
The artist creates for a purpose of giving something to others, directed towards the external world and not for these expressions to be buried in a storage. For this very reason it should be the artist’s choice regarding what their future destiny should be afterwards.
“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”
W. Somerset Maugham
From my own experience I know that when an artist has no information about what has happened to their artworks, has no idea where and who they belong to, it is like loosing a piece of that condensed life energy and its original purpose to give to others.
I myself have recently lost track of some of my artworks, I do not know whether they are thrown out, sold, who owns them and whether they will ever be displayed or exhibited in any form for others to enjoy what they were created for in the first instance. It is somehow like loosing track of those energy pieces that were meant to give further energy.
The artwork is a living thing, going from one place to the other, however before being thrown out I believe the creator herself should have been at least notified and asked whether she would like it back.
Art is so much more than an object that gets used, becomes less trendy or just unlicked. It lives to reflect a person’s lifetime energy and is a living proof of that person’s livelihood, passion and intention to give to others. As such it deserves the same respect in return just as the artist her or himself as well.