Body of Work: Contemporary Artists' Estates and Conservation is a platform to explore the relationship between contemporary artists' estates and conservation, and the collective task of maintaining artistic legacy.
The symposium arises from the increasing interactions with artists’ estates within our private practice studio, and was first broached during the final panel of our 2015 symposium The First Crack: Conservation and Value in Contemporary Art.
Contemporary artists’ estates are expected to grow dramatically in number over the next decade; they are increasingly represented in some fashion by major galleries and agencies or held in institutional archives. We believe that a symposium that engages contemporary artists’ estates and conservation from both institutional and market perspectives is essential and timely.
We hope to become mutually aware of the roles, challenges and capabilities of artists’ estates and conservators, and address together the following questions: Who makes the decisions in conservation when the artist is gone, and what informs these important choices? How can the complexity of contemporary art be maintained without the voice of the artist? At what point does, or should, the historical dimension of contemporary artworks come into play - and what are the implications of this for all stakeholders, including the artworks themselves?
These important questions are already being worked through today, and this symposium provides the opportunity to assess where we are, and where we are going. As such, these issues are relevant to all workers and stakeholders in the field of contemporary art, including living artists. We invite artist estate representatives, widow(er)s and heirs, conservators, gallerists, auction houses, artist assistants, fabricators, curators, art historians, art insurers, advisers and collectors for an open discussion regarding the changing landscape of contemporary artists’ estates, the market, and the imperative of keeping the material and intellectual integrity of the artwork in balance as these relative values shift in time and context.
Contemporary Conservation Ltd. would like to thank our symposium co-host School of Visual Arts and our lead sponsor Glenstone Museum. We are grateful for additional support from: Art Agency, Partners, Jill and Peter Kraus, and Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro.