‘Put everything into writing’ is the clear and consistent message in this collection of articles from 1977 to date.

Early pieces give examples of contractual terms and conditions that were being asked for in the 1970s and 1980s, but later pieces revisit the subject with a different approach, offering basic structures and checklists for negotiating and constructing terms and conditions appropriate to individual circumstances.

Common contractual relationships are dealt with, including bills of sale; gallery and agency deals; exhibition agreements and public and private commissions.  Common contractual problems are also dealt with, including: damage to work; tracing lost work;disclaimers from liability; severance of contractual relationships; insurance and valuation; loans and gifts and fakes.

There are numerous case studies charting contractual successes and failures, including:

Alan Smith’s Long Roof project (1981)
Stephen Conroy’s gallery deal litigation (1988)
Robyn Denny’s dispute over damage to one of his pictures on loan (1994)
Lilianne Lijn’s Dragon’s Dance commission (1995)
Anna-Livia Lowendahl-Atomic’s A selection of interesting secrets from various stages in my life – the law of contract and confidentiality (2001).

The contractual situations and issues over the three decades covered by these pieces continue to arise today.  And, although much progress has been made during that period, it is still clear that many artists still feel awkward or inhibited about introducing formal written contracts into the commercial dimension of their practices.  Evidence demonstrates abundantly clearly that, because the ‘unwritten contract’ will always come into play in circumstances where things go wrong, there is no cogent argument for written contracts not being used in a confident manner for all commercial dealings.

For useful introductory videos about using contracts, see the Contracts Store YouTube channel.

Don’t You Trust Me?

Artists and dealers rarely if ever discuss in public their professional business relationships. Much praise, therefore, is due to London-based artist Alvaro Barrington and his gallery dealer Sadie Col… Continue Reading Don’t You Trust Me?

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‘Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)’ is the title of a remarkable and unique online selling exhibition held by Christie’s from 21 July to 21 August 2020. Dedicated to the promotion of works by ‘22… Continue Reading Anti-Flipping

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Tattoo You

‘Where there’s a hit, there’s a writ’ is an old music business saying, which perhaps applies to legal responses in recent times to the rise in popularity of body art, tattooing in particular. In March… Continue Reading Tattoo You

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Death of a Gallery

Blain|Southern’s sudden closure of its three gallery operations at London, Berlin and New York in February 2020 shocked the contemporary art world (Artnotes AM434). Apart from inevitable questions rai… Continue Reading Death of a Gallery

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Terms and Conditions

The social network revolution of the past two decades of digital and technological innovation and exponential growth has been embraced by artists to transform their communications with each other and… Continue Reading Terms and Conditions

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Secondary Sales Risks

Caveat emptor is usually translated as ‘let the buyer beware’. Its common use in law and business connotes a doctrine that still operates today, especially in the increasingly lucrative market for sec… Continue Reading Secondary Sales Risks

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Continuing Silence

Many aspects of the art business world attract criticism or attack for being slippery and opaque, none more so than in the realm of sales transactions where privacy and discretion are paramount. First… Continue Reading Continuing Silence

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Dealing Differently

In 1976 this column looked at the case of a London-based artist who sent work to a New York gallery for exhibition and sale in the US: the works were sold and the gallery sent the artist a cheque whic… Continue Reading Dealing Differently

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Sculpture Competitions

Some interesting and important issues arise around the enduringly popular artists’ competition format. Many sculpture ‘competitions’ contain this word in their title, but some are promoted as ‘prizes’… Continue Reading Sculpture Competitions

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Public Art and the Law

Architects’ collaboration with artists and craftworkers has been the subject of serious debate and some activity over the past five years. The ‘art and architecture’ movement in the U.K. started with… Continue Reading Public Art and the Law

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