creative ownership

My husband and I recently had a debate regarding when a creation is no longer your own.  (Believe it or not, we wrapped up this enormous discussion in little under 10 minutes including restroom breaks and a trip to the kitchen to refill our water glasses, which now that I type this are totally related, huh.)

It started with J.D. Salinger who hasn’t really published anything notable since “The Catcher in the Rye” . . .and even more interesting is that he’s still alive and writing, completing an unknown amount of works since 1951 without publishing them. . . and he’s stipulated in his will that all unpublished works be destroyed upon his demise. . .and that’s where we jumped off. 

When does an artwork(whatever form) no longer belong to the artist? 

**I made a stunning argument that the creation is public the moment it leaves your brain and hits the paper or canvas, regardless of whether or not its published or in a museum. 

**Eddy debated that there’s a trust in those around your that some things, despite their “historical value” are private and still within the controls of the creator or trusted individuals selected by the creator, i.e. journals, failed paintings, embarrassing photos, etc.

Thoughts, Anyone?


2 thoughts on “creative ownership

  1. Hmm, I think I’ll have to take a middle ground (though slightly more on Eddy’s side) and say that a creation is under the author’s control as long as he or she chooses to exert some control. If the creator is alive and cares, they should have say as to what happens to the creation, for better or for worse. If the creator is dead, but entrusted their work to people they cared about and who care about their work, they can still exert control over the creation. It only truly becomes the public’s when nobody cares to control it anymore.

    Having said that, I fully support artists who willingly give up control of their work to the extent that Shawna suggests.

  2. Oh, see, I can agree with this also. I have a friend who sells each artwork with a contract that ensures she has control over the piece forever. It also allows her to make a portion of any gain in value the piece may have, so if she sold it for $300 and the new owners resell it for $1000, she makes a percentage of that return. But the idea of having a say in its handling after it leaves your hands is something I wrestle with. How much control does the public have over someone’s work after they die? I’m sure in every artistic field there are masters who die never intending they’re journals or practice pieces to see the light of day, but those critical transition works become part of a greater understanding of the artist and their journey worked out in their creation, ie. DaVinci. You’re right its a control issue. Ponderings . . . .

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