Creative Legacies : The Changing Landscape of Artists' Estates - by Kathy Battista and Bryan Faller

Creative Legacies is OUT TODAY! 
Beyond simply offering advice for effective legacy management, the book seeks a nuanced investigation of specific topics relevant to artists' legacy... What is an artist’s legacy? Should artists' estates be maintained in perpetuity or permitted to sunset? How do younger artists engage with estate planning today? What are the new and emerging strategies for documenting and making artists' estates accessible?
Below is a teaser extract from the book's introduction to pique your curiosity further...



Artists have always had two estates: the typical leftovers from a life—real estate, antiques, family heirlooms, financial assets, and objects with emotional significance including correspondence—as well as their artistic body of work, which is a very different kind of asset. Picasso, Rothko, Calder, and Warhol come to mind when one thinks of well-known artistic legacies of the 20th century. Increasingly, however, in the 21st century, there has been a tremendous growth in this sector of the art world. There is no singular reason but rather a plurality of issues that have brought this to fruition. Economically the value of individual works of art from artists with robust secondary markets have driven greater attention and demand for professional services assisting artists, their estates, and artists’ legacies. Larger galleries are able to provide services as a part of their ongoing business relationship with artists who are commercially viable. To keep commercially successful artists happy within the artist–gallery relationship, many gallerists find they are ever more involved in helping to manage artists’ studio practices in addition to facilitating critical relationships with influential curators, collectors, and collections affecting the artist’s legacy and market, respectively.

Image above: Titian, Diana and Callisto, 1556–9, National Gallery and Scottish National Gallery, London and Edinburgh. Reproduced in 'Creative Legacies', 2020.

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The struggle to maintain ancestral estates, stately homes, and their contents has led to the gradual erosion of most of Britain’s old collections. In some cases the selling off of one’s assets to pay for various costs is the only realistic solution.

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How do we ensure the legacies of jewellers, architects and artists working with ephemeral materials or whose work is entirely site-specific? For all artists and their estates, art-market professionals and students of the art market, Creative Legacies offers vital answers to these fascinating and often complex questions of artistic legacy.

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Images below: Leigh Bowery designs in Kim Jones’ office at Dior head- quarters, London, 2018. Photograph © Nathalie Khan, 2018. Reproduced in 'Creative Legacies', 2020.


The demographics of the world in general, and the art world as a subsection, is part of this phenomenon. In the post-war era the art world was a smaller place, populated predominantly by men and with a market that was primarily dominated by white American or European artists.6 In the 1980s this was still the case. The increase in higher education in the 1950s and 1960s—including of war veterans assisted by the 1944 GI Bill, and the proliferation and magnification of MFA pro- grammes—resulted in a larger segment of the population choosing artist as a professional option. Whereas in the past the notion of the starving, bohemian artist was the classic paradigm, today some artists act as CEOs running several businesses and managing scores of staff. As the industry has grown, so too has the size of the artworks, and thus the corresponding amount of help needed to produce these works. Artists including Damien Hirst, KAWS, Urs Fischer, Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, Sterling Ruby, and many more are no longer mythological characters isolated in their studios; we have returned to a Renaissance workshop model, where artists often train and employ many others.7 Noah Horowitz writes about the effects of artists such as Hirst and the extreme level of his financial success, which was unthinkable for past artists, even those as successful as Picasso:

One of the most immediate is the sheer rise in the number of artists today, also something unprecedented. This is abetted by increasing coverage of the contemporary art scene in vanity and mainstream media, which has thrust the art lifestyle onto a new level of pop cultural fixation. Indeed, if it were not for the bevy of press on the riches and glamorous habitudes of Hirst and some of his contemporaries, and the varied connections with Hollywood celebritydom that extend from this, it is doubtful that so many would aspire to the profession. (1)

At the time of writing of this book Deloitte’s most recent estimate for an aggregate value of art and collectibles was US$1.74 trillion (the figure for 2018)—the art world has grown into a place to park money, and for better or for worse art has become an acknowledged asset class in the financial services industry. (2) It is no wonder, then, that artists’ estates are occupying an increasingly bigger piece of the pie chart and will continue to do so as artists age and eventually pass.


 -- Kathy Battista & Bryan Faller.


Creative Legacies is available to order HERE.

Hardback • 192 Pages • Size: 240 × 170 mm
Includes 30 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 9781848223523 • Publication: September 17, 2020



Notes from the text:

(1) Noah Horowitz, Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market, Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011, p.6.

(2) Deloitte Art and Finance Report, 6th edition, 2019, p.46, (accessed 22 March 2020).



View the full list of Autumn books in our catalogue HERE.