The definitive guide on everything one needs to know about commissioning contemporary art.






In an age of blockbuster exhibitions and public art projects, the most exciting artworks are often those that have been specially commissioned for a specific site or event. This invaluable guide reveals and demystifies every stage of the commissioning process—from the initial invitation to an artist and the financing of a project to the final installation of works. Combining theoretical and conceptual considerations with practical ones, the text is supplemented with copious quotations and insights from some of the best-known artists, curators, commissioners, and museum directors of today. It is an essential guide for anyone involved in the process of commissioning new art—private collectors, foundations, public bodies, museums, galleries, and artists themselves—as well as those fascinated by the inner workings of the contemporary art world. To give the reader a more detailed insight into the book, ART.ZIP interviewed the book’s co-author Daniel McClean.


Daniel McClean is the co-author of this book, he is a lawyer specialising in Art Law and Intellectual Property Law at the London based law firm, Finers Stephens Innocent LLP. He is also an independent curator and was co-curator with SUPERFLEX of the exhibition‘In-Between Minimalisms’and the project‘FREE SOL LEWITT’ at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2010.



C.   C.


A: We go through the whole book and we think technically it’s really helpful. Because in China really rare artists notice this (art commission) is a big market.

D: It’s huge! Because one of my first jobs in the art world was in Tokyo, Japan, I worked for Fumio Nanjo. He has done many of the big art commissions in Japan. It’s amazing. Now he is the director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. So I would say it’s a huge area.

A: 這本書從技術上來說真的很有幫助。 在中國,很少有藝術家能意識到(藝術委託項目)是一個很大的市場。

D:這是有巨大市場的!我其中一個初期的藝術項目就是在日本東京,當時為南條史生 (Fumio Nanjo) 工作。 他在日本做了許多非常好的大型藝術委託項目,現在他已經是東京森美術館的館長了。所以我會說藝術委託項目是一個巨大的領域。


A: In China, people only do commissions for personal portrait, for properties and as such, now more and more Chinese people realize commission in the west is not that limited.

D: No, it’s not. You have public commissions for parks, for hospitals, for council and etc. You also have many other types of commissions.




C.   C2


A: Having said the commission, how do you define the concept of commission?

D: That’s a very good question. Commissioning is really personal, is in some sort of direct relationship between an artist and the person or entity to create a new work. Historically commission was directly linked to patronage, to individual artists being commissioned by rulers or kings or the church like, the Vatican, like Michelangelo commission for Sistine Chapel. So it implies very personal access between the artist and generally the collector. Contemporary could be more complicated. But generally, the idea of commission is linked to patronage, and that’s what we explore in a historical overview that goes from the Medicis, to the De Menils, who have this great commission of Rothko for the chapel in Austin, Texas. But then this line goes into the DRAF foundation (David Roberts Art Foundation in London) that continues the commissioning activities, so historically it’s about a link to patronage and often with private collectors, or states and institutions. In the contemporary fields which what we explored in the book, the idea of commissioning has evolved into a typology, a different types of people and organizations to involve commissioning art works.

So we identify six main models, there’s the private collector, there’s the institutional collector, like Tate, MoMA, there are event commissions like Performa in New York which commission for the collection of temporary exhibitions, there are not-for-profit organizations, Venice Biennials, and there are private foundations, and then there are city governments. Like just we have said, local spaces, transport systems, hospitals, it’s all sorts of aspects. Commission also has quite public dimension, historically, because it’s often being linked to the creation of sculpture. Sculpture commission has often been linked to monuments and memorials dealing with war, with commemorating, commemoration of important people, individuals for specific spaces.



當代藝術委託項目更為複雜些。但是總體來說,藝術委託項目的概念與資助緊緊相聯,這也是我們從歷史上能找到線索的,從梅第奇家族(the Medicis)到德・梅尼爾夫婦(the De Menils),德・梅尼爾夫婦曾委託羅斯科(Rothko)為德克薩斯州德奧斯汀德教堂所創作出宏大的作品。然而之後,這條線索延續到大衛・羅伯茨倫敦藝術基金會(David Roberts Art Foundation—DRAF),他們仍繼續著進行各項藝術委託項目。所以從歷史上看,藝術委託項目是與藝術資助、私人藏家、政府或者機構緊密相連的。 我們在這本書中所探討的是當代藝術領域,藝術委託項目的概念已經形成了一門類型學, 即人或組織參與到藝術委託項目的不同類型。



A: So you co-write the book with Louisa Buck, what’s your role then?

D: I was writing about the legal aspects of commissioning, and I also did a lot of interviews, in a sense, the conceptual framework of why people commission today. So for example, I think commissioning is like a same thought of contemporary art, because commissioning practices are creating new things that don’t exist in the world, in often-different things like creating context at the galleries, and current exhibitions of museums exhibitions. So if you look at art organization like Artangel, which is commissioning not-forprofit production agency, commission all the projects of last two decades, extraordinary of Matthew Barney to Rachel Whiteread, all of these different artists generally made very interesting projects. There are new spaces though since commissioning is also entering the field of the collection.

There are two interesting projects discussed in the book of incredible novel and the important one is called Inhotim, which is in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Inhotim is a museum privately owned by a steel magnate, Bernado Paz in Brazil. It’s set up as a museum and a landscape. And there aren’t any walls, everything is outside, if you walk through the jungle, and you’ll see the difference. In Inhotim there are many architectural structure of house, different commissions, the things like Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Lawrence Weiner, and they all have made projects which is specific for this place, or beyond, outside the space, being reinstalled, reformed within the context of Inhotim. So Inhotim is a very interesting model, which is also a model of a very interesting project.

Patrick Charpenel, Mexican curator, he’s organizing project for Agustin Coppel in Culiacán of Mexico, which is a drug war zone, and they are creating a commission structure which is based on a botanical garden. And this is for local people, so he’s commissioning amazing artists to make projects, like James Turrell, Franz West, Olafur Eliasson, all these amazing artists are backing to make projects for the Botanical Garden, in drug war zone of Mexico.

So one of the things about commissioning which I think it is important, it expands our inner sense of outside the white gallery cube space, so you have commissions and public spaces. I think one theme of the book is how commissions engage with place, in a sense of place, often with community, but being amazing trends and art where contemporary art is commissioning to a place like a land equips with his friends in Thailand, equips whole community projects which are all based on architecture which link to local landscape and surroundings.

And another projects like The Land organized by Rirkrit in Thailand, and the Quiet in the Land in Thailand, which was organized by France Morin from the United States, these ideas are even pushing the information in terms of immateriality or process how commissioning work link to situation. I think they are what artists trying to do, to think about art as situations, and commission has very important parts of saying arts for situation.

A:這本書你是與路易莎・巴克(Louisa Buck)合著的,你撰寫的部分主要是哪些呢?

D:我所寫的是關於藝術委託創作中會涉及法律的方面,我也做了許多的採訪,從某種意義上,就是人們現在為什麼要進行藝術委託項目的概念框架。舉例來,我認為藝術委託項目跟當代藝術的想法是如出一撤的,因為藝術委託項目是創造世界上並不存在的新事物,在很多情況下,譬如在畫廊語境下,在博物館展覽語境下創建新文本。所以像藝術天使(Artangel)這樣的藝術機構,它是非盈利的藝術委託創作中介,在過去二十年裡,從馬修・巴尼(Matthew Barney)到雷切爾・懷特雷德(Rachel Whiteread), 這些形形色色的藝術家都做出了非常有趣的藝術委託項目。藝術委託項目還是有很大發展空間的,因為它已經漸漸涉足收藏領域了。

書裡還談到了兩個非常有趣的項目,其中一個重要項目是在巴西的貝洛奧里藏特(Belo Horizonte),名為 Inhotim 。《Inhotim》是一家私人博物館,為巴西鋼鐵大王貝爾納多・帕斯(Bernado Paz 所擁有。 作為一所博物館和自然景觀,《Inhotim》沒有牆,所有作品都是露天的。當你穿過叢林的時候就會發現各種各樣的作品。 Inhotim 有各種建築結構的空間,各式的的藝術委託作品,譬如道格・艾特肯(Doug Aitken)、 馬修・巴尼(Matthew Barney)、 勞倫斯・韋納(Lawrence Weiner)等等的作品,這些藝術家都為《Inhotim》定製了新作品,無論是《Inhotim》範圍還是周邊,這些新作品在《Inhotim》的語境加入了新的文本或改變了原有的文本。所以我認為《Inhotim》是一個非常有趣的模式,同時也是有趣項目的一個範本。

墨西哥策展人帕特瑞克・卡潘諾(Patrick Charpenel)受奧古斯丁冦博(Agustin Coppel)委託在庫利亞坎(Culiacán 進行了一個藝術項目,名叫《植物園(Botanical Garden)》。庫利亞坎本是墨西哥一個毒品戰爭地帶,帕特瑞特別邀請了眾多藝術家為當地居民進行了這個植物園的藝術建構,支持該項目的藝術家包括詹姆斯・特瑞爾(James Turrell)、弗朗斯・懷斯特Franz West)、奧拉維爾・艾利亞松(Olafur Eliasson)等。

因此我認為藝術委託項目很重要的一點是, 它無限延伸了我們對画廊那種白色立方體空的想像,所以便成就了藝術委託項目與公共空間的結合。我覺得這本書的一個主題是委託創作是如何與空間相結合的,或者是某種意義上的空間,經常是與社區,但是藝術委託項目有以驚人的發展趨勢,並且是為一個特定地方而創作的當代藝術,比如在泰國的一片土地邀請上朋友,配備整個社區規劃,而這個規劃是建立在與當地景觀和環境相關聯的建築基礎之上的。

另一個項目,泰國的勒克里特(Rirkrit)組織的《土地(The Land)》這一項目,還有美國的弗朗斯莫林(France Morin)策劃的在泰國的項目《土地的寧靜(the Quiet in the Land)》,這些想法都是關於如何推動這些無形信息,如何將藝術與當地狀況聯繫在一起。我認為這些是藝術家想要實現的,把藝術當作一種局面,而藝術委託是這種局面很重要的一部分。


A: You were a curator in the past, why are you doing law now?

D: I like the field of laws and art, I find things about ownership of art very interesting, so I did bits and parts about who owns the artwork, dealing things about what are these artworks, is it authentic, what is the taxes about it, about attribution, in a way, going law about arts, big questions about art, who owns the artwork, what is the artwork, what is authentic artwork, who could copy it, who has the right to copy the artwork, how is the art work sold, these kinds of questions, and then cultural property questions, to arise community to stop something, to get it back if the you think this subject is reflective to your community. They are very interesting questions.


D:我喜歡法律和藝術,我覺得藝術所有權的相關問題非常有趣所以我做了些關於誰擁有藝術作品,這些藝術品是什麼,是否是真品,還有藝術品的務問題,歸屬問題,從某種程度上來,就是藝術的相關法律,藝術的一些重要問題,誰擁有藝術作品的所有權,什麼是藝術作品,什麼是真品,誰可以複製,誰有權利複製藝術作品,藝術品如何銷售,諸如此類的問題,然後就是文化權的問題,引起社群的阻撓,或者重拾權等等, 這些都是非常有意思的問題。


A: How’s the change from curator to lawyer?

D: It is a little strange. I think they got points in common, because loyal classifications and definitions, I mean, in exhibitions and art history, they are also typologies, structures. They are very different as well. Law is of more senses about logic, even it’s about value judgment, and it’s also using logic in a lot of ways. Whereas in the field of art, this logic, too bit reach uncertain conclusion, art is a paradox, the point that Sol LeWitt makes in his statement when he talked about art is mystics, he talked about art become irrational, they push rationality into irrationality. In that sense, law can’t do that ultimately. It places on interpretation but there has to be rules, where rules in art game are about breaking the rules, which why art is exciting. It is fun to look at art with law. It is interesting.


D:是有點奇怪,我覺得其實兩者有共通點,因為從分類和定義上說,在展覽和藝術歷史中,兩者都是類型學,結構學。當然它們也是很不同的。法律更多是邏輯,甚至是價評判,而且法律在許多方式上運用邏輯學。而在藝術領域,這種邏輯太少了,所以導致的是不確定的結論,藝術是個悖論,索爾・萊維特( Sol LeWitt )在他的聲明中提到了這個觀點,他說到藝術是神秘的,藝術不理性,藝術將理性推到了非理性。從這個意義上說,法律最終還是不能做到這一點。法律關乎解釋,但是還是有規則的,而藝術的規則就是打破規則,這也是為什麼藝術令人如此激動。從法律的角度來看藝術是非常有趣的。


A: Are you familiar with contemporary art in China?

D: Yes, but I don’t know a lot about it. I have an early work of Huang Yong Ping, he was one of my favorite artists, and he did the one of the best pieces I love, which is in Magiciens de la Terre. He put the text of Confucius and western philosophy together into the washing machine, and took it out. This is the first Chinese contemporary art I’ve ever seen. And it was amazing. This is great work, this is genius work, and I met Huang Yong Ping in Paris long time ago. Cai Guoqiang is amazing as well. He gave me a little drawing and it’s really beautiful. I worked with him in Taipei, Taipei Biennial in 1999, before I became a lawyer.

I am still a curator now, I curate shows. I think contemporary art now is interdisciplinary, so it’s very interesting when you come to art from discipline outside of art. You find artists working in between spaces, so artists I work with are conceptual, but also work in the field between law and art. So I curate shows about using contract to make a piece of art, and reflecting conditions of arts. This is ongoing project which I did called Offer & Exchange, we did six projects so far. And then I also do projects with Superflex, I am organising a big one at the Jumex Collection, Mexico City this year, which is an amazing collection. We are doing this big project about intellectual property laws and copyrights. So I get into an area I feel law and art is very interesting.

I think conceptual art very links to law somehow. Conceptual art also plays with laws, documents, or the contracts, and certificates, so it is very legal aesthetic. So for me it’s very interesting, I love conceptual art, there is a big connection between conceptual art and law I think. Playing with logic, playing statics with laws, and then also legal moment in art. Because certificates, all these things are the rules which has values, as meaning, so that artist starts to use these elements as the work, so the certificate becomes a work, or the contract becomes the work, or co-links to the work.


D:知道,但並不多。我有一件黃永的早期作品,他也是我最喜歡的藝術家之一,他有件作品是我最愛的幾件作品之一,就是在《地球村的魔術師(Magiciens de la Terre)》展覽上的那件。他把孔子和西方哲學的文本一起放入洗衣機,然後再拿出來。這是我所見到的第一件中國當代藝術作品,非常不錯。這是一件偉大的作品,也是一件天才作品,我在很久以前在巴黎見過黃永。蔡國強也同樣了不起。他給過我一小幅繪畫,很美的繪畫。在我成為律師之前,在1999年的台北雙年展,我和他一起工作過。

我現在仍是一名策展人,策劃展覽等等。我覺得當代藝術是跨學科的,所以如果從藝術外的領域來到看藝術是相當有趣的。你會發現藝術家是超越空間限制的,所以與我一起工作的藝術家都是觀念藝術為主,或者結合法律和藝術來進行創作。所以我策劃的展覽是用合同來創作成為一件藝術作品,反映藝術的狀態。這是一個還在進行中的項目,我稱它為《提供&交換(Offer & Exchange)》,我們目前已經完成了六件作品。我還與Superflex合作項目,今年我正在為墨西哥城的珠邁克斯收藏(Jumex Collection)組織一個大項目,主要關於知識產權法和版權。所以我覺得現在做的事情能發掘更多藝術和法律的趣味。我覺得觀念藝術在某種程度上與法律是相連的。



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