Madonna

Life size Mary revealing sacred heart.

Madonna
2000. Life Size
 
This commission was completed in one week, while working toward my MFA, to meet a production deadline for a private company that had hired an undergrad art student with no background in the figure to create the life-size sculpture. His work fell far short, as most universities no longer teach rigorous academic figure sculpture or anatomical drawing, and couldn't be shown to the patron. The important point for any artist with rare production skills, such as creating figurative sculpture, is understanding what your work is to a production company: it is not your work. You will have no share in the  sale of the work or any future reproductions- in fact your name will not be assocaited with it (which is also why it can be an appealing paycheck- much better than cubicle slavery). The art world referrs to this role as a "technician" hired by a production company, or The Artist, for production of their work. Warhol's tongue in cheek Factory is now the de facto method for art superstars,  hundreds of technicians work in the sweatshops of todays billionair art kings:  from Damien Hirst's dot paintings or anything Jeff Koons to Maurizio Cattelan who at least brings some of the Warhol/Barnum & Bailey  panache back into the game with the shtick that he has never created any of his own work and that he is not an artist. A logical progression would therefore place any acting patron commissioning a work as the capitol "A" Artist on par with Cattelan and the producing "technician" as inconsequential, but the art world is a market-driven world of brand identity and tiny production houses making insignificant work for private patrons is usually a one-off dead end.  The realily for most talented "technicians" is an hourly rate for an art market engine, this sofa-painting reality is woven through all levels of the art world. Such art engines are there to churn out product.
Anyhoo, the patron of the Madonna flew in to see her product, and to have me make any changes. The company owner came with the patron and his new staff technician,  and wanted his technitian to try to make alterations on the product to the patron's wishes. The owner of the company took me to the side and made promises to pay for the work, but he just needed to collected the work now. He payed 1/10 of the contracted amount: just enough convince me to let it go out the door. I should have stripped all the clay from the armature and given them their clay back, but it is difficult to destroy your own work even when it isn't your work- plus artists have a hard time grasping the difference between an opportunity and being used.  So goes the art world.  A Gerhart original stands as a centerpiece of a garden, and only the Madonna and I know her creator.
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