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Seth Siegelaub´s manifesto: A discourse analysis of The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In early 1971, a year before he abandoned the art world, the American art dealer and independent curator Seth Siegelaub (1941-2013) published The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement (ARRTSA) in New York. Its stated aim was to change the power relations on the art market more in favor of the artists. This study departs from the observation that despite being a seemingly ideal way to assert artist’s rights, ARRTSA has only been used by a few artists. While the reason for this reluctance has not been sufficiently researched, my study also shows that there is a lack of academic work that considers this area of research in art history. In order to shed light on this field I am using Fairclough’s theory and by applying his dialectical method of Critical Discourse Analysis, I examine the discourses in which ARRTSA is included as a particular discourse and event.

The analysis of Siegelaub’s practice and position in combination with a close linguistic analysis of his introductory text highlights aspects and dimensions that have been previously occluded or under- acknowledged. The result of the analysis shows that the discourse stresses solidarity, insistence and consistency for artists and makes a moral appeal to collectors, but the text also reproduces the idiosyncratic energy and ambiguities that was surrounding his driven persona. I argue that despite all the purported benefits of ARRTSA, artists are instilled with a sense of uncertainty and risk, because it becomes apparent how informal and unregulated the art world is and how the art market-logic yields more power than the artist. Hence, the idea of pursuing artist’s rights through the use of written agreements remains largely unexplored. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 88 p.
Keyword [en]
Seth Siegelaub, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, artist’s contract, Critical Discourse Analysis, Norman Fairclough, rhetorical analysis, linguistic analysis, conceptual art, art manifesto
National Category
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-29975OAI: diva2:926931
Subject / course
Art History
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2016-05-10 Created: 2016-05-10 Last updated: 2016-05-10Bibliographically approved

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