Art Fabrication Is Hard, Thankless

The plinth in question (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

This past weekend The Guardian surveyed a handful of British-based art fabricators, the kind of people who paint Damien Hirst’s spots or make Tracey Emin’s neon, and their answers overlapped in a number of unsurprising places.

A good number of them were defensive about the work that they’d done for these artists, and pointed to the rich tradition of assistance in the creation of great works of art. Take this fellow, who helps make Anish Kapoors:

The common analogy is that you wouldn’t expect an architect to build his own building. Constantin Brancusi worked for Auguste Rodin, Anthony Caro for Henry Moore. It’s understandable: you absorb or reject the skills of what comes before you, and then hopefully find your own voice. At the same time, you can’t imagine Francis Bacon handing over his paintings to anyone else at any point.

The other funny area of agreement is that, with the exception of the spot-painter, most of these fabricators agree that the work they do is difficult. This is only funny because it seems to contradict the other point on which the majority agrees (“Our work requires precision, and doesn’t matter in the least.”) One particularly tricky item, apparently, was Rachael Whiteread’s upside-down plinth at Trafalgar Square, from 2001.

Art Fabrication Is Hard, Thankless