The Contracts between gallerist and artist


    In Italy, still few artists sign contracts with galleries, relying on a relationship of mutual trust, but the risks for both are around the corner.

    The relationships between artists and galleries are usually born from a mutual appreciation for the quality of the work supported by both parties, where a handshake and an oral contract of collaboration  seem to be worth more than a written one.

    Although the “word of honour” does not appear to be ineffective for the purposes of collaboration, it is important for the artist and also for the gallery to emphasise the fact that this is a business relationship, which can be regulated by different types of contracts aimed at the sale.

    Among the main ones, we can mention:

    • The consignment contract or more commonly known as sale on consignment is mainly used in occasional collaborations between an artist and a gallery.The gallery receives, along with a document listing the works consigned by the artist, the  artworks that it commits to sale or return within a set period. The artist maintains the property until the artwork it is sold. The eventual revenue is divided according to a percentage agreed between the two parties.
    • The exclusive contract involves, for a maximum of 5 years, the obligation for the artist to reserve all his or her production for the gallery, receiving a monthly income if so agreed.
    • The purchase agreement involves the purchase of an artist’s production by the gallery, which aquires exclusive ownership of the works.

    While bearing in mind that even in the absence of a written contract, the obligations, rights and responsibilities between the artist and the gallery are still in place, setting the conditions for a written contract with legal effect is always a safeguard for both parties. Therefore, it is better not to risk misunderstandings and to prevent possible litigation, possibly turning to specialised consultants who are able to advise according to the best contractual solution.

    Trust is good, but protecting yourself is better.

    What about you, are you protecting your art?

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