Saturday, June 26, 2010

Open Discussion with Artists: Positive Result of Documentation

In a recent BAP post, Black Art Project (BAP): Booklist, from June 09, 2010, I highlighted a series of recently published books and catalogues. This open letter or discussion to you, as visual artists, relates to one of those recently published titles, The Prints of Warrington Colescott: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948-2008. "The catalogue documents and depicts all 354 of Colescott’s editioned prints, providing title, date, media, dimensions, and selected exhibition history and collections for each print, along with comments and anecdotes by Chapin and Colescott." This publication speaks volumes to the importance of documentation and record keeping. 

A product such as The Prints of Warrington Colescott is a wonderful example of one of the benefits, resulting from documentation of an artist's works. As an artist, do you have a visual record of all of the works produced in each media in which you work? Does that visual image include the title, date, dimensions, exhibition history, or any particular information relating to that image or its series? Do you have a record of who purchased each piece of art or to whom it may have been given or donated, and its value at the time it was given as a gift or sold? Will you have the documentation at hand to facilitate the writing of a catalogue raisonné? Can you provide a curator with the essential information needed to pull together a retrospective exhibition on a given theme or a particular medium of work? Did you keep drafts, sketches, models, plates, and etc? Are there notes, thoughts, feelings written on pieces of paper or more formally in a journal? If you are fortunate to have an artist representative, is that person keeping such records on your behalf? For purposes of documentation and good business practice, these are just a few questions to ponder as you artistically move through your career. Channel any questions that you may have relating to documentation to my attention, either through the comments section or privately via email: or

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