How much does Art pay? – The Daily Art

From artist to curator, restorer to gallery owner, art center to private foundation: the balance of wages in the art world.

“How much do you earn? » The question often goes wrong – especially in France. This is even more so in the art world, where uncertainty is very present and opacity reigns supreme. However, over a hundred people responded to a survey we launched on social networks in recent weeks. “Finally we’re talking about this topic! » was the general reaction. One suspects that those who earn the least respond the most. However, institutions or other sources that enter the market now allow us to compile an inventory. In the United States, the topic has been more open for several years: in 2019, a file revealed the salaries of anonymous contributors, while a transparency law in New York from November 1 shows that income from art there is very low. cost of living.

As in France, the proliferation of activities (art-related or not) is a major factor in funding. “We do a lot of things and for a lot of different people”, an art critic notes. In 2021, he earned an average of €2,000 per month (all amounts are net, editor’s note): 900 euros as a teacher (civil servant) at an art school, 540 euros for texts plus about 400 euros for courses and conferences and 180 euros in unemployment insurance. Another factor of survival: capital, especially family. “The older generation didn’t really care about salaries because most of them came from wealthy familiesindicates the curator of the national museum. It has long been a privileged profession. » As noted by several interviewees, the situation of a minority, a certain number of artists is as follows: “A personal legacy allows some, especially those living in Paris, to be in this art world. It’s a class act.”

Artists are the highest paid

Artists earn the least from art. In 2020, the Racine report showed their average gross income (including activities other than art) to be around €1,476 per month (by comparison, the minimum wage is now set at €1,329). Faced with this aberration, they have been organizing for several years to demand better wages. Robyn Chien thrives on Instagram: in 2021, she received an average of 617 euros per month, including 91 euros thanks to her artistic activities and 513 euros in social assistance. An artist represented by a Paris gallery and recently nominated for the Ricard Prize says he receives an average of €2,000 a month (one third in sales, one in exhibition rights, and the last in workshops).

For those who are extremely dangerous, every year is different in terms of income: “Can double from simple”, one of them says. In particular, production costs often affect profits: “For 2021, my income was around €40,000, but between expenses, travel and production costs, my profit was only €7,717. I have sold the works for 7000 euros, but still have not been paid by the collectors. I’m getting personalized housing allowance (APL) to complete it”. For many, social assistance constitutes a large part, if not the majority, of income, together with work as a teacher at an art school (rewarding up to 1,700-3,000 euros at the end of their career) or a non-artistic job. An artist in his forties, benefiting from solo exhibitions at art centers in France, reveals that he will earn €1,270 for the whole of 2021: “My best turnover in my 17 years of business was 13,570 euros, especially thanks to sales to Fracs”. What allows him to live is the salary he receives as a teacher at an art school (2,500 euros per month). for a street artiston the other hand, commissions for work for companies or municipalities provide him with a decent income of up to 2200 euros per month.

But there are many cases of abuse by gallery owners or collectors who delay the work or even fail to pay. Sometimes these are the structures that exploit artists. One of them testifies: “I did a residency in a private structure where I presented my work. Thanks to this, I was able to sell my works for a total of 10,000 euros. However, not only was the residence free of charge, I also worked there for free: every afternoon I guarded the place, took care of it, welcomed school children by offering a workshop.”

In museums, controlled, but not incredible salaries

Conditions in museums are more regulated. The curator also mentions it “The range between the lowest and highest earners is narrower than in many industries”but he adds: “Civil servants are often paid less than contract workers because the latter are considered more dangerous. But this is not the case in responsible positions.

As for the most prestigious management positions, according to internal sources, the presidents of Louvre or Orsay would earn about 10 thousand euros per month. Includes salary and benefits in kind, especially company housing, negotiated directly with Bersi. This is more than the culture minister earns…

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