collaboration - Two or more artists working together in a joint effort to produce artworks. Also known as working in an art collective.
Examples include the work of artists whose works require use of specialized techniques such as casting, printmaking, electronics, and engineering. Sometimes artists collaborate simply to insure that their work is not the product of one person. Consider the surrealist technique called exquisite corpse.
At what point does the artist stop being the artist if responsibilities for decision-making or fabrication are either shared or delegated entirely? How do we gauge the quality as well as authorship of a work which is created partly or entirely by people other than the artist?
Consider the authorship of motion pictures. Visualize the seemingly endless credits rolling by at the end of countless films. What enormous collaborative efforts those things can be! We experience them less intimately than we do most gallery pieces, nevertheless they are (or can be) works of art. Who's the artist? (If you think only of paintings, sculptures, etc. by individual artists, you get into the mindset that something is art only if it's the product of a lone maker. What lone artist can actually be considered entirely apart from his society (context), however influential or removed it is?) Looking at movie credits, we begin to assign artistic authorship by reading the job titles or descriptions. As in these filmic examples of creative visual art making, there doesn't have to be just one means of assessing credit. But if a gauge must be found, go for one that measures the decision-making: Who made what choices, for what reasons, how well, etc.? While craftsmanship is a highly significant issue, it's not so important who held the tools as who decided what the tools will do . . . what content, what composition with what materials, what shapes, colors, textures, sizes, etc., to what standard of craftsmanship? An artist can be an artist as a writer, as a director, as an actor, as a musician, etc., etc. We enjoy our terms having relatively stable meanings on the one hand, but our awareness of their mutability is among the most delightful aspects of our enjoyment of the arts!
"Gilbert and George" Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore (English, 1943- and 1942-), In the Bush, 1972, video installation, Tate Modern, London. Known by their first names, Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore began their artistic collaboration in the late 1960s. In 1970 they began calling themselves 'living sculptures' and made themselves the primary subjects of their art.
"Gilbert and George" Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore, A Portrait of the Artists as Young Men, 1972, video installation, Tate Gallery, London. See self-portrait.
"Gilbert and George" Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore, Happy, 1980, photographs on paper, 242.2 x 201.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London. Large-scale photographic works, made up of smaller photographs composed into a regular grid, are characteristic of their work since the mid 1970s. Happy is from a 1980-81 series titled 'Modern Fears'. These works deal in a pictorially heraldic way with everyday life, fears, fantasies and moods of the artists. Here they are presented as two gargoyles. Their expressions are grotesque and irreverent.