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Taylor Fitzpatrick's Statement
to the Oakland Museum, April 1977

     Writers have their work published. They keep their work while people who buy their books get their work.

     Book stores and libraries with their branches and mobile units are everywhere. Books are inexpensive to purchase and libraries are free.

     Music composers also publish. Their works are performed and recorded for public consumption. The and the public have access to the works.

     Most moderately sized communities have an orchestra. There are high school, city, state orchestras and choruses. Skilled musicians are plentiful. Professional performances do not cost much to attend and clubs and societies often provide free concerts and recitals.

     Pictorial artists, however, lose their works when they sell them. Often a painting when sold goes into storage or into some private area. Public consumption of pictorial arts is very low.

     The functioning of public museums is severely restricted.

     Art galleries do not relate to public consumption but to profitable sales practices - they do not relate to art but to commerce. With the exception of the presentation of commercial art to the public through advertising techniques the public gets little deliberately planned exposure to pictorial art.

     The writer and music composer work within fairly effective systems for the distribution and presentation of their products.

     The pictorial artist must rely upon the gallery system which sells to individuals who are usually more interested in speculative values than in artistic values; and upon museums which primarily collect and preserve works of established value, and which display some of their collection to those who can and will come to the museum.

     Writers and composers are paid royalties on sales and performances of their work. Pictorial artists are paid, after deductions, about one half of the original sale price and nothing from subsequent sales of the work, which may be many times over the original price. The painter's price is the lowest price at which a painting will ever sell. Subsequent sales may net a larger profit to the seller that the painter received for producing the work. Profits from paintings go to buyers and sellers of paintings and are not shared with painters.

     Paper, pens, pencils, piano, typewriter, make up the bulk of the overhead of the writer and composer. Pictorial artists must rent studio sand storage space and constantly re-purchase expended supplies - expensive supplies.

     Under the present conditions most people cannot buy paintings because of their prohibitive prices. Painters cannot get their prices high enough to provide an adequate income. (Most "successful" painters hold jobs at something other than painting.) The overhead of commercial galleries must be staggering. Speculative buying and selling cause prices to increase inordinately.

     The inflated prices of pictures are often based more upon the popularity of the painter or the vogue of his style than upon the quality of the work and the real costs of presenting the work for sale.

     Painters as artists find themselves in a depressing situation. A picture is just as much for public consumption as a poem or a song is, but there is no effective system for the distribution and presentation of the painting to the public, and the public is neither educated to understand nor encouraged to accept the painting.

     The teaching of reading and writing skills is fundamental to any school program. Many schools require some training in listening to and performing music. How many schools offer anything like a comprehensive course in seeing pictures or a course in the structure of pictorial forms? The public is pictorially illiterate.

     I am convinced that the majority of pictures are bought as something decorative, something entertaining, or as a financial investment or security.

     As a painter I am not painting something to go well with someone's new drapes; I am not painting something to entertain someone during their idle moments; and I am not painting a commodity for a speculative market. Although my paintings might do very well in any one or all of these situations, I personally don't give one damn whether they do or not, and I resent the fact that when a painting leaves me it almost always will fall immediately into one or more of these categories and will cease to be an intellectual communication to be read.

     I must work a job outside of painting in order to support myself and my painting profession, so why should I with my art works feed a system which thoroughly subverts my intentions?

     A method is needed to train people to read pictures and a system is needed to present pictures to people to be read.

     If such a method and system existed I believe that serious professional pictorial artists would flood the system with high quality works. The artists would be presenting their works to those who they know cold see them, understand them and put them to good use.

     What a boon to the artist it would be if people who took their pictures for the purpose of living with them and looking at them - reading them.

     Paintings belong where people are: in homes, schools, transportation depots, public buildings, waiting rooms, hospitals. Not in the sense of Muzak, to increase productivity and reduce complaints, but in the sense of being with people during their stopping, waiting, thinking time; to re-humanize people during a day's alienating experiences.

     The bulk of a painter's work should be actively used without too much concern for wear. Only a small representative selection of his work should be carefully preserved for educational and historical purposes.

     I realize that the situation for the writer and composer is not all that good. I want to say that the pictorial artist's situation is particularly bad and that the public is greatly neglected relative to pictorial works.

     I suggest that the public museum can operate more as libraries do, perhaps in cooperation with the libraries and schools, with loans to local citizens or members or to anybody, or cost related rentals; and that the museum can develop a branch concept where the main museum is caretaker and overseer of works distributed throughout the community; and that educational aid aimed at all levels of visual skills can be presented in give-away leaflets and re-usable books, discussions, demonstrations for anyone who whats them; and that classes could be presented for school teachers to make them ore aware of reality of the visual language and the visual illiteracy problem.

Taylor Fitzpatrick


Copyright © 2006 Taylor Fitzpatrick Art Preservation Trust. All Rights Reserved.