Michael Kenna Donates all of his work to France

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pentaxuser

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Yes no real clues as to why France. He doesn't reside there nor does it appear from the article has he ever resided there

So I wonder what the reasons were?

pentaxuser
 
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Pieter12

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He has worked a lot in France. Maybe he thinks the French government is more appreciative of his work or even of art in general.
 

MattKing

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He has a strong connection with France. Perhaps he sees a benefit from making the donation now, and the results from his looking for a donation destination were that there were people in France who could provide him with what he needed in return - things like donation receipts and representations about how the work would be dealt with.
 

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When a photographer or other artist donates their archive, it is usually under an arrangement with an institution to properly house and care for the archive. Not every institution can do this, and there has to be some mutual interest between the artist and the institution. So sometimes you hear of an artist in the US donating their archive to a university that is someplace not where they live, but where the library is interested (and perhaps has found a donor to cover the costs of properly archiving it, which is not cheap). In this case too a specific institution is named - the MPP https://mediatheque-patrimoine.culture.gouv.fr/ which I guess is a national/federal archive and library with an extensive photography section. Who knows whether he approached them or vice versa, etc.
 
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He would have been better off setting up a private foundation with people who would be paid from his estate to manage his work and sell his work to the public. This would provide an income for his descendants and give better publicity to his work. More of the public would get to enjoy his life's work. Just like Ansel Adams and Vivien Meier.

Now, the museum will just bury it along with other photos they received in some archive underground rarely to be seen again. No one there has any financial interest to sell his work and promote it. Just another bureaucracy.
 

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He would have been better off setting up a private foundation with people who would be paid from his estate to manage his work and sell his work to the public. This would provide an income for his descendants and give better publicity to his work. More of the public would get to enjoy his life's work. Just like Ansel Adams and Vivien Meier.

Now, the museum will just bury it along with other photos they received in some archive underground rarely to be seen again. No one there has any financial interest to sell his work and promote it. Just another bureaucracy.
Does there need to be any financial interest in order to show the work? Not every country or institution operates under the same incentives as in the U.S.

Also, I am unsure if even the local landfill will accept my archives.
 
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Does there need to be any financial interest in order to show the work? Not every country or institution operates under the same incentives as in the U.S.

Also, I am unsure if even the local landfill will accept my archives.

Ansel's and Meier's work is out there in the public who are enjoying their work because there's a financial interest in getting it out there. The work will be rarely shown by the museum. Every ten years or so they'll show a couple of his pictures. That's it. For example, when I was at the Getty Museum in LA, they had only two little Walker Evans photos long taken down since then. The museum has 1200 of his images. Where are they other than in their archive? How many people see them compared to let's say, Adams or Meiers'?

The reason is that there are so many artists and photographers and photos in museums in their archives. There's just no interest in showing any one artist's work. But if there is a financial interest in selling, you can bet the public is going to get to see them in one form or another.
 

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I'm prepared to leave those sort of considerations up to Mr. Kenna. After all, he has been fairly successful at putting his work into the public's gaze so far :smile:
 

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Conserving an artist's legacy is hard work, and the legacy includes a lot of material that is historically interesting but doesn't hang in frames. If the only motivation is selling prints, then if the cash flow dries up the archive risks being put out on the street again. The other aspect of having an archive in a museum is that art historians and other people who want to research or write about an artist can request to see materials even when they are not on display.

Ansel Adams's archives are at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. They regularly exhibit his work and that of other photographers who don't have such a high profile. They also exhibit historical artifacts related to Adams, sometimes have shows to compare his early and late prints, and every year around his birthday have an event to bring in the public with participatory activities (look through the ground glass of a view camera, etc).
 
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I don't know why, but I am having a hard time with this one.

Maybe because personally, after more than 3 decades of commercial work, I am doing my best to "retire" from it and shift to selling the fine print and keep my eye on the prize, whatever size that prize is.

When I chatted with Michael last year about traveling abroad with film, it was good banter and it seemed he was eager to get back to the travels and projects that had been sidelined by the pandemic, not to mention his hip problems.

But now this. A gift? A curtain call? Certainly a curveball of sorts for his adoring fans.

His current exhibition in Tokyo that runs until 11/26 is called "Departure"...
 
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Yes no real clues as to why France. He doesn't reside there nor does it appear from the article has he ever resided there

So I wonder what the reasons were?

pentaxuser

photography originated(got its first patent) in France, which is, therefore, its birthplace?
 

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photography originated(got its first patent) in France, which is, therefore, its birthplace?

I am not sure that the date of the first patent is determinative. Still, Niépce's View from the Window at Le Gras was made in 1827, which well predates Fox Talbot's work, so France still come out the winner. Fox Talbot's process was of course more practical, and so his influence more enduring.
 
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I'm prepared to leave those sort of considerations up to Mr. Kenna. After all, he has been fairly successful at putting his work into the public's gaze so far :smile:

Kenna sold that work previously, all his life. That's why it's out there successfully and people want to have it and are willing to pay for it. Look how the profit motive got Vivien Meier's work out to the public. If there had been no commercial value, we still wouldn't have heard of her.

Maybe Kenna sold his whole works to the museum for a big number and with the authority to sell it with all profit going to the museum?
 

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He would have been better off setting up a private foundation with people who would be paid from his estate to manage his work and sell his work to the public. This would provide an income for his descendants and give better publicity to his work. More of the public would get to enjoy his life's work. Just like Ansel Adams and Vivien Meier.

Now, the museum will just bury it along with other photos they received in some archive underground rarely to be seen again. No one there has any financial interest to sell his work and promote it. Just another bureaucracy.

This is not about prints. The purpose of such gestures is first and foremost the storage of negatives—to ensure their security and longevity. Original prints are often also part of it, but it's the negs that are most important to preserve in optimal condition.

From these negs new prints can be made—and if the photographer was its own printer, notes are often included in the archives, so the new prints can be as faithful as possible to the photographer's intentions. These new prints, if the original is not available, can then be lent to other museums in case of touring exhibitions or special retrospectives. That a museum owns the negatives makes these kind of exchange between museums much easier.

And sometimes these new prints are indeed sold. Magnum recently did this with prints by Capa, Erwitt and others.
 
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The article says the following regarding the donation to the museum: "It is accompanied by the rights of production and representation of the images."

I wonder how this all affects existing owners of his limited edition prints and prints out there for sale by dealers? What about their rights?
 
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This is not about prints. The purpose of such gestures is first and foremost the storage of negatives—to ensure their security and longevity. Original prints are often also part of it, but it's the negs that are most important to preserve in optimal condition.

From these negs new prints can be made—and if the photographer was its own printer, notes are often included in the archives, so the new prints can be as faithful as possible to the photographer's intentions. These new prints, if the original is not available, can then be lent to other museums in case of touring exhibitions or special retrospectives. That a museum owns the negatives makes these kind of exchange between museums much easier.

And sometimes these new prints are indeed sold. Magnum recently did this with prints by Capa, Erwitt and others.

Where would the money go? His children? What about keeping track of limited editions? Is the museum set up for that? Will they be sued for violating terms Kenna established previously? Would the aggravation just make them leave his work in their basement never to be seen again except for web based samples describing their collections?

You can be sure that if he left it to a commercial enterprise, they would follow these things and try to make money from them creating much more notoriety and distribution to the world and people who would like to have samples of his work hanging in their homes, businesses and museums.

For example, Universal bought Prince's music for between $100 and $300 million dollars. That went to his family and estate. Now Prince's music will remain available for the public to enjoy for a long time while the copyright is in force. I think Bruce Springsteen just sold off his life's music for $300 million and he's still alive with a big family.
 

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The article says the following regarding the donation to the museum: "It is accompanied by the rights of production and representation of the images."

I wonder how this all affects existing owners of his limited edition prints and prints out there for sale by dealers? What about their rights?

That's what I was talking about. The museum has the rights for production (of new prints) and representation (in this or other museums, in books and catalogs). This ensures that the works can keep being seen, which is what museums are for.

Changes nothing if you own an original print and want to sell it. It never has. There are today galleries that own original prints by great photographers and sell them, even though the negs are housed in a museum or foundation which has the rights of production and representation.
 
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That's what I was talking about. The museum has the rights for production (of new prints) and representation (in this or other museums, in books and catalogs). This ensures that the works can keep being seen, which is what museums are for.

Changes nothing if you own an original print and want to sell it. It never has. There are today galleries that own original prints by great photographers and sell them, even though the negs are housed in a museum or foundation which has the rights of production and representation.

I just wonder what arrangement he made with the museum regarding his family and profits from any sales? Also, I don't see a museum, that has objectives other than sales, providing the incentive of distribution to the general public that a commercial outfit might have.
 
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