The Art of Not Making The New Artist/Artisan Relationship

Michael Petry


Using examples from a wide range of media, Michael Petry presents art by more than 115 contemporary artists who have one thing in common: they do not make their own work. Instead, they either employ others to produce it on their behalf or appropriate objects made by someone else. Master craftsmen, artisans, and fabricators are just some of the technical specialists who help realize the creative vision of these artists. But when an artist does not make his or her own work, what does it mean for the nature of art and for the status of the artist? What is the relationship between creativity and production?

The book explores these and other questions about authorship, artistic originality, skill, craftsmanship, and the creative act. Beginning with a historical overview and continuing through the history of modern art, it highlights the vital role that skills from craft and industrial production play in creating some of today’s most innovative and highly sought-after works of art. Organized by the materials from which the works are made, five chapters examine the relationships between many of the world’s most important artists and the artisans and fabricators they work with.


Glorious photographic collection of ‘tactile’ art—hewn from glass, metal, stone, and textiles.

— Harper's Bazaar

At its core, the book encourages all artists to consider new alliances that could lead to more finely crafted and conceptually ambitious works that reflect a new age.

— Surface Design Journal

Perfect for: fans of Kiki Smith, Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Chris Burden.

— The Huffington Post

Gorgeous to look at.

— Art Quarterly

This visual and conceptual exploration of the artist-artisan relationship makes this book unique and appropriate for all levels of aesthetic practice and appreciation.

— Choice

…reveals that many of the most important and successful artists employ technical specialists to help them realize their ideas.

— Palm Springs Life


Michael Petry


Michael Petry is an artist, author, and Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) London, and Guest Curator for culture agency Futurecity. He has authored and co-authored a number of books including The Trouble With Michael and Nature Morte: Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still-Life Tradition.