Artist Archives

Over the past few years artist archives and appraising artist archives became an important topic and professional opportunity within the personal property appraisal community. Fellow appraiser Soodie Beasley, AAA, ASA shared an article from the NY Times Style Magazine on artist archives. It was too long to post the full article, the block quote has a portion of the article on why artists keep archives and are archives worth keeping.

If you appraise artist archives you may wish to read the article, and if you dont, you still may wish to gain a better understanding of them.  Follow the below source link for the full article.

The NY Times reports
There are two questions surrounding artists and their archives. Why do artists keep them? And what is worth keeping? Legacy and ego certainly play a part in answering the first question, as does an acute awareness of one’s mortality. But in the last century alone there has also developed a clear distrust of institutional integrity, an overall unhappiness with what white cube galleries and museums can offer. A creative desire has arisen — as the sculptor Isamu Noguchi experienced when he opened his own museum in 1985 — to preserve the context of an artwork alongside the work itself. In 1977, Donald Judd, who saw the paintings of a previous generation of artists scattered across collections or neglected, with little effort toward genuine conservation, wrote, “My work and that of my contemporaries that I acquired was not made to be property. It’s simply art. I want the work I have to remain that way. It is not on the market, not for sale, not subject to the ignorance of the public, not open to perversion.”

The answer to the second question is more complicated. At least in contemporary terms — as art has entered various new, confounding mediums and the market has so inflated the value of work that artists can entertain ideas of their legacy, at least financially, on far more ambitious terms than they would have even 50 years ago — archives themselves have become a kind of competitive commodity. Saving early work or rejection letters is a rare feat of foresight bolstered by a healthy ego. (Andy Warhol famously kept a 1956 letter from the Museum of Modern Art in New York declining a drawing called “Shoe” and informing him that the work “may be picked up from the Museum at your convenience.”) Do major artists simply have a premonitory confidence in their work? Or are they major artists in part because, in saving everything, they are able to compile a fuller view of themselves? Still, what we accept for the historical record has expanded over time to be more holistic than not. What we deem worth keeping now seems to include everything.
Source: The NY Times Style Magazine

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