Discuss: Painting over a thrift store painting
Submitted by bsherwin at 7/25/2012 5:46:18 PM CST
bsherwin: I just read another story about a an expensive work of art purchased at a Goodwill location for a few dollars. The artist who purchased the painting had planned to paint over it -- but her partner recognized the work. The $5 painting ended up being worth $20,0000. Needless to say, the artist decided not to paint over the artwork. There is another side to stories like this... and the media rarely mentions it. People forget that artists have specific rights concerning their artwork... even after their artwork leaves the studio.
I realize that a lot of artists hunt for cheap canvas at thrift stores in order to 'recycle' the painting. They don't stop to think if their action is unethical or not. That said, I have a feeling that most don't realize that the creator of the painting -- especially if he or she is still alive -- can take legal action if he or she discovers that someone has destroyed or altered his or her artwork. It does not matter if the artwork itself is famous or not... it does not matter if the artwork was found in a thrift store.
When artwork is sold the artist still has rights to the work itself unless there is a contract that states otherwise. He or she has the right to defend the integrity of the artwork -- as well as his or her intention for the artwork -- legally. Those rights don't change if the artwork changes hands... even if it is donated to a thrift store.
I will probably write about this issue at length for FineArtViews. For now.... I want to know what you think about painting over artwork created by another artist. Do you feel that it is unethical? Should thrift stores make it clear that the artist may still hold rights to the artwork on display? Do you feel that art is 'fair game' (the buyer can do whatever he or she wishes to do with it) if it ends up at a thrift store? What would you do if you discovered that one of your artworks ended up at a thrift store -- and from there, 'erased' or altered? What if your artwork ended up exhibited after minor changes? If you decided to take action... who would you hold responsible -- the thrift store or the buyer?