Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Career Benefits of Boycotting Charity Art Auctions @ZaidanGallery http://goo.gl/qd3fM

 

There is a tradition of auctioning original works of art donated by artists to raise money for charitable causes. There are many good causes that hold such events. No matter how good the causes, though, I have come to the conclusion that artists must stop donating to every single one of them.

 Don't ever donate your art to a charity auction again. Half a century of charity art auctions have changed the way collectors buy art. These fundraisers have depressed prices of art across the board and kept artists in a subordinate position that has no career upside or benefits.

 Instead of tossing away another great artwork to a good cause, join the good cause of boycotting charity art auctions. When you join this cause ...

 •You stop taking revenue out of the art world
 •You stop shifting art collector dollars to the bottomless pits of recurring annual Beg-A-Thons
 •You don't contextualize your art as being a synonym of pretentious panhandling
 •You don't announce that your art is worth low bids
 •You don't risk that your work will be publicly seen getting no bids
 •You don't empower strangers to devalue your artwork
 •Most importantly, you stop publicly proclaiming that you give your art away

 The argument against me is simple: Donations of art to charity auctions raise money for good causes and raise the profile of artists who put their art in the public eye. It is a good argument. It has worked well. This seductive sales pitch has pulled in countless millions of dollars over the past few decades.

 Problem is, this argument has not lived up to its bargain. Sad news: Your profile got humiliated because the collector got such a bargain on your art. If your art was one of dozens of trinkets on a wall with a hundred other artists, your profile actually disappeared there in the crowd anyway.

 I would love to hear the story of the artist whose career rocketed to success because he or she donated a work to a charity auction and this act alone tipped the first domino toward an avalanche of success coming his or her way. This narrative is always implied. I've never seen it happen.

 Charity art auctions are the emptiest of promises to artists: you give us your work, you get nothing in return except a party invite to an event where you are a second class citizen. Watch as the price of what you really will let your work go for is nakedly advertised to the select group of people to whom your work is meant to be seen as rare and desirable....more