November 11, 2003

Behind the Scene

icon | november | art factory is a profile of the Uk's leading art fabricator. You know the business that actually makes the expensive art. Interesting, but don't believe the bit about them being the only business really doing this stuff, there are other games in other towns.

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Posted by Abe at November 11, 2003 06:34 PM


Abe, it would be interesting to open this shadowy world of bespoke fabrication up a bit and see who the others are, wouldn't it? So _spill_ what you know!

Well I certainly don't have all the pieces either. Unfortunately I no longer have the contact info for someone who knows far more then me. He used to work in a place in LA that did a lot of 80's powerhouse stuff, Jeff Koons and the like. From what I understand it was a lot of poor artists making large scale works for the rich ones.

Then of course there are those artists who build their own little factories. Murakami is relatively open about the factories he has or has had in Brooklyn, Japan and China. I've never been able confirm the rumors of him paying Japanese illegals $3 an hour in the Brooklyn one though... Schnabel is reported to have quite an assembly line rolling as well.

The most interesting thing in all this to me is the point when the artist is involved in the strategic process and when they leave it. Are they involved in figuring out how the art is going to get built and how the actual production is organized? Or do they just say make this, and let someone else figure it out how its done?

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The model/method these days is often artist-as-director (director in the cinema sense, ... or even _producer_) as much as it is artist-as-craftsman. And sometimes it's artist-as-corporation: Warhol, Kostabi, Koons, Murakami, as you say. Gormley recruits teams for his Field projects, but they seem closer to collaborators as there's a performative sense in the work.

(Is this Mark Kostabi locating the limit of minimal artist involvement?
Or is Kostabi-as-corporation merely optimising his work strategically? Engaged in direction and operations, less so in product detail... (Again there seems to be a performative element in the production line method, though he denies it.) More on Kostabi here: )

We can probably be comfortable with all of these models if we identify _intention_ as the driving (and value-creating) force in art.

Kostabi is pretty interesting, I think a lot of reason the art world is disinterested in him is that he takes the _intensive_ (in a Deluezian sense) out of the art. Or at least waters it down. The machinery that stamps it out is too visible. The process is actually interesting, yet its also very much in the space of the actual, not the experiential. Obviously his fans react differently...

This would also explain why the fabrication process is generally hidden. People know damn well its not Serra working all that steal, but they would rather ignore the fact. The process is something that is appreciated from an experiential, and abstract standpoint. But once it becomes rigid mechanistic reproduction the value disappears.

Gots to think a bit on the _intention_ side of it all, not sure where I stand.

The person in question has only been able to become economically viable by means of diception and fraud. He has defrauded the VAT authority of at least £500k and similarly defrauded the inland revenue. Matters are presently being braught to charge.

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