For a universal Resale Right
“Artists can’t live on fresh air alone.” All too true, these words – spoken by the internationally-renowned late Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow – are a stark reminder of the importance of visual artists’ resale rights around the world.
The CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers), together with the GESAC (European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers), EVA (European Visual Artists) and the CIAGP (The International Council of Creators of Graphic, Plastic and Photographic Arts), are leading a major campaign for the universal adoption of resale rights, which have already been adopted by over 80 countries. This right guarantees that graphic and plastic artists will receive payment for the resale of their work by auction houses or art galleries.
As Mexican artist Julio Carrasco Bretón puts it: “70% of artists around the world need another form of work in order to make a living, and often don’t get any recognition until they have been working for several decades. Resale rights not only provide additional income when our works are re-sold, but they also allow us to follow the life of our creations, which we lose trace of when they are first re-sold. Dealers, galleries, auctioneers and auction houses can all leave their business to their heirs. But for us, once we’ve sold our artworks, artists’ rights – including resale rights – are all we can pass down. As a Mexican, I enjoy these resale rights. But I think it’s unfair and unequal that, if one of my pieces is sold in the United States or Japan, countries that do not recognise this right, I will not be paid. I think it’s equally unfair and unequal that an American or Japanese artist cannot harvest the fruit of their labour anywhere in the world. That’s why resale rights should be obligatory in every country around the world.”
Marie-Anne Ferry-Fall, Director General of the ADAGP and President of EVA, explains why this right is vital for visual artists: “This right, which was established nearly 100 years ago in France, is an issue of fairness between the different people on the value chain created in the art world, so that those behind this value can benefit and make a living from it.”
Discussions are still under way on the subject, driven by societies of authors and other bodies such as the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).