Tuesday 29 November 2011

exploitation of arts professionals

It is extraordinary though wholly familiar that arts professionals are expected to deliver high level services for nothing or next to nothing. Enthusiasm and commitment are exploited by those commissioning services. The most recent example is a podcast I was asked to record by the National Gallery in connection with the Leonardo show. I was asked to record items on the anatomical drawings, one of which, the vertical section of a man's head, provides a wonderful entry into Leonardo's ideas about seeing, thinking, imagination, memory etc. I negotiated the fee up to a grand £100! This was absolutely their "top fee". The gallery was unable to fix the recording at a date when I was due to be in London, and I therefore had to make the journey specially. On claiming expenses, I was told that they were not part of the deal.  Given average mileage rates for travelling from Oxfordshire, I end up with  £14.20 for something that consumed at least 4 hours of my time. I asked,  "would you expect to employ an accountant or solicitor for this kind of money?" adding that " I am a professional speaker, writer, broadcaster now! There's something very wrong with the priorities here."
The podcast was being made by a company called Antenna, but all my correspondence was with the gallery. They have said they will claim expenses from Antenna, but to date .... no fee, no expenses.
And this in connection with a show that is sold out.
This is just one small incident in the broader picture of exploitation of artists, curators, writers, speakers and administrators. This occurs as a matter of habit even in connection with events that involve large budgets to cover substantial fees for other professionals, such as designers, publicists and the deliverers of other services.

a long time

My schedule - speaking, travelling meeting deadlines (Studio International, Art Forum, book on the Leonardo Salvator...), book promotion, media work, general Leonardo craziness - has left no time for blogging. Deadlines come before desirables. Now a few may follow. Since I have so few followers, levels of disappointment at the previous inactivity will be minimal.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

funny abuse

At least this one, from Fred Kline, who deals in art, is funny.

The background is that he has at least one "Leonardo" that I declined to support.
I have to say that the Leonardo meatballs have not materialised. As a vegetarian, I have mixed feelings about Mr Kline's failure to keep his promises.

From: Lear’s Fool Society, Princeton on the Pecos
To: President, The Crazy Leonardo Club-Principessa Division (kindly distribute)


 Dr. Prof. Rev. Martin Kemp, Cardinal of the Unauthorized Church of Leonardo da Vinci Orthodoxy,

Your Eminence,

As you are the current President and Editor-in-Chief of The Crazy Leonardo Club-Principessa Division, please accept the sincere congratulations of the Lear’s Fool Society (LFS) on your club’s winning the 2010 LFS IgNoble Prize for Leonardo da Vinci Theory, a newly established category for gold-plated gobbledygook.

Along with a limited edition tin-plated lead medallion depicting Leonardo’s Parachute for each of the members including the shadowy Mr. Peter Silverman, you and your fellow alchemists—especially citing the contributions of Mr. Pascal Cotte and Mr. Peter Paul Biro—will receive a year’s supply of gift-boxed Leonardo’s Meatballs made entirely of organic bullshit, which as Leonardo instructed in his Notebooks, “the meatballs can be burned as fuel, used as cannon balls, or boiled and eaten during cold winters of discontent.”

Martin Kemp was again cited as author and editor of The Story of the New Masterpiece By Leonardo da Vinci: La Bella Principessa, an unctuous and slippery-tongued tome with proofy illustrations and pseudo-scientology.  The LFS says three cheers for your well-done hoax!   Martin Kemp’s book receives as well the 2010 LFS IgNoble Prize for a Book on Leonardo da Vinci, a newly established sub-category for gold-plated hard-cover gobbledygook.  We feel IT will live in infamy along with other LFS IgNoble Prize winners: Hitler’s Diaries (Hitler-Tageb├╝cher) and Clifford Irving’s (exceptionally well-written) The Autobiography of Howard Hughes, among others.  For this original anti-achievement, Martin Kemp is banished to three years of carefree life in Antarctica at Ellsworth Land Lodge and Weasel Farm (350,000 scenic square miles of mountain and enthralling high plateau with live-in arctic weasels for company (all-expenses-paid/clothing and weasel food not included).  This entitlement also comes with mandatory monthly weekend visits from Peter Silverman; the Italian art historians and politicians and other smoothy expertiseans associated with your prizewinning gobbledy-book, including the impeccably imperious and pompous couple Nicholas and (faux-book designer) Jane Turner; and of course your choice of relatives, students, and sycophants. (complete all-expenses-paid+$250 cash).

The awards dinner will be held on Halloween Evening, October 31, 2010, at the clandestine Bernard Madoff Estate, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  In honor of the occasion, the awards ceremony will be held in the dark Ballroom at the Madoff main house.  The Voodoo Shamans Chorus will provide entertainment with voodoo incantations and handmade effigy dolls with a packet of poison pins.   Please note that the evening will be illuminated only by flashlights held by Lear’s Fool Society members, each of whom will be supplied with red paint-balls and a slingshot.  All award recipients are required to wear white shirts and no pants (including underpants) and to submit to the tattooing of one of Leonardo’s ugliest grotesque caricatures on top of the right forearm (no exceptions).  Transportation and bodyguards provided courtesy of The Swiss Bankers Swisscheese Hedgefund and Worse Angels Security & Torture Laboratory, Inc.   

Again, congratulations to you and the whole package of wieners.  “Nobody roasts a wiener like LFS!”

Yours sincerely, and most assuredly,

Fred R. Kline, Sergeant at Arms
Lear’s Fool Society
Princeton on the Pecos
The Leonardo da Vinci Library and *Abattoir
Dragon’s Lair #1
New Mexico, U.S.A. 87504
*Visitors Welcome

Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile.

(Art eternal, life short, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult)

Hippocrates (b. 460 BC- d. 357 BC)

polemics and attribution

A higher public profile comes at a considerable cost.
Writing about newly discovered works - I do not offer an attribution service - and responding to the dozens of "new Leonardos" I am now sent (4 in the last month) lays me open to all sorts of abuse and arbitrary polemics. Such is the unpleasantness of the polemics, not least from people who seem only to be able to confirm their status in their own eyes through the generation of noise, that I have given serious thought to saying I will not even consider looking at items that have newly appeared. I will give an example in my next post.
 However, I do feel some public responsibility - a responsibility that comes with the privilege of dealing with some of the greatest artefacts that have been created - and I have decided that I will lay out my reasoning as clearly as I can in various published media and leave it at that. If someone can really demonstrate that I am wrong, so be it. There is no point in getting caught up in argument for the sake of it.
On more practical grounds, I am revising the section on attribution in the "Rules of Engagement" on my website. The new section will read:

"I am bombarded with images of works of art that owners are claiming to be by Leonardo or by another major artist. Most are very remote from works by the proposed author. I am then often abused for failing to support the attribution.

In future I will only respond to messages about works that are really worth considering, for whatever reason. It is recommended that the services of a local museum / gallery are consulted first, before sending to me.

I do not offer an authentication service.

No opinion is given on value, and only historical judgments are expressed.

The first step is the provision of a good quality photograph or digital image (not above 5MB).
Large bodies of documentation / technical and other analysis will not be read unless so agreed in advance.

If it is made clear at any point that I do not consider the matter worth pursuing, no further correspondence will be answered.

No fees will be accepted for undertaking any research that might follow."