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The Art of Not Making

The New Artist / Artisan Relationship

Michael Petry


A unique celebration of the ways artists collaborate with craftspeople to realise their work


Can an artist claim that an object is a work of art if it has been made for him or her by someone else? If so, who is the ‘author’ of such a work? And just what is the difference between a work of art and a work of craft?

The Art of Not Making tackles these questions head on, exploring the concepts of authorship, artistic originality, skill, craftsmanship and the creative act, and highlighting the vital role that skills from craft and industrial production play in the creation of some of today’s most innovative and sought-after works of art.

Michael Petry presents the art of over 115 contemporary artists – including Takashi Murakami, Matthew Barney, Tony Cragg, Cornelia Parker, Grayson Perry, Ai Weiwei, Daniel Buren and Carsten Höller – all of whom have one thing in common: they do not always make their own work. Instead, they often either employ others to produce it on their behalf, or appropriate objects made by someone else. Original interviews with the artists and artisans offer insights into this creative collaboration, which often produces works breathtaking in their scope and ambition.

This is a fresh, controversial and enlightening approach to many of the most influential artworks of our time.

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'Glorious '
Harper’s Bazaar

'Gorgeous to look at … Petry so obviously knows his stuff'
Art Quarterly

'The arguments presented in this glossy, erudite book are bold, intriguing … beautiful'
Gay Times

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 27.5 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 208 pp

Illustrations: 324

Publication date: 30 January 2012

ISBN: 9780500290262

Contents List

Introduction: When Art Meets Craft • 1. Glass • 2. Metal • 3. Stone • 4. Textiles • 5. Other Materials • Interviews; Biographies; Bibliography

About the Author

Michael Petry is an artist, curator and Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).