We argue that to focus too narrowly on enforcement of the Artist’s Contract is to miss its point. Its purpose was not to create a formal contractual relationship but to describe and reshape the social and legal relationships that constitute the art market. This Article traces the social history of the Artist’s Contract, and its afterlife. We argue that, understood contextually, the Artist’s Contract reflects an attempt to (re)shape the “legal consciousness” of the art world. The contract was a legal form intended as a tool of social change, intended to catalyze a new, shared understanding among artists and collectors as to their mutual obligations and expectations. Its effectiveness has therefore to be weighed against metrics other than enforceability.
Kentucky Law Journal
June 19, 2019