One of my key sources of information as I help artists plan their legacies, and create inventories of their life’s work, has been the Art Cart, a project of the Research Center on Arts and Culture. Researcher Joan Jeffri from Columbia University has studied artists extensively: her reports, including Above Ground, make for delightful reading both for nerds and those who know and love artists (I count myself in both categories!).
Through the Art Cart project, 20 artists in New York and Washington, DC, have been able to document their careers, with a high level of professionalism, with photographs. The video below gives you a great sense of the project and the benefits, both for participating artists and for society as a whole. The video, like the project, is full of heart and life and what makes artists tick. Please view it! One idea, for example, is that artists tend to do well as they age — and there may be things we can learn about resilience among older people that studying artists can demonstrate.
Less heartening are the numbers about artists and their legacy preparations. Jeffri’s research, based on studying hundreds of older artists, gives these startling statistics:
- 61% of professional visual artists age 62+ have made no preparation for their work after their death
- 95% have not archived their work
- 1 in 5 have no documentation of their work at all)
- 97% have no estate plan
- 3 out of every 4 artists have no will
While the project can only take on a few artists each year, you can always start an inventory. Learn more about artists’ inventories and the other services I offer, here.