United Talent Agency, a California-based company, is set to open a new branch of representation called UTA Fine Arts. It is the first of its kind, and there is debate as to whether or not the invention is a good one. It isn’t possible to draw the art industry any closer to the magical land of Hollywood. UTA represents numerous famous actors, actresses and writers such as Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford.
It has been reported that the company will not function as a gallery, which is to say that it will not take a role in sales or exhibitions of artists’ work. Instead, UTA will assist artists with project financing, signing sponsorships and getting involved in the entertainment industry, should they want that.
Almost all of these are seen as red flags in the art world. Endorsements are for famous athletes or Kim Kardashian, and there is no clear place for artists in the movie industry. So does this company provide any practical or beneficial services? Without having signed any artists thus far, the entirety of the branch still exists in theoretical terms. Although the spokesperson for the company has said that it plans to slowly build a list of clients throughout the year, many still ask if the UTA Fine Arts is valid. My answer? Yes.
One of the biggest criticisms of the concept is that it will cause artists to “sell out.” It would be foolish to argue that the invention of this new form of representation will be the cause of artists “selling out” simply because the practice already exists in the art world. Look at Jeff Koons as an example. He tried to become a celebrity through his work and is currently being sued on multiple accounts of plagiarism. Between the many fellow artists he employs in his studio and the plagiarism suits, many wonder if Koons produces anything original or just seeks a name and fortune for himself. There is no way to know that this form of artistic representation will perpetuate the practice of “selling out.” And yes, more exposure to the celebrity world will obviously increase the chances of artists flirting with fame and fortune, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Fame and fortune do not mean that an artist must compromise the integrity of their work.
There have already been dozens of other crossovers between the celebrity and art worlds, and many have had positive effects. Beyoncé’s trip to the Louvre alone caused national headlines, and any work of art she was photographed with suddenly became well known. Furthermore, the increased range of opportunities for artists will give them access to higher salaries. More successful artists will result in a healthier art industry.
In an age where technology is constantly pushing the boundaries of art, no one can afford to be narrow-minded and judgmental of new methods of coping with the ever-expanding industry. Ultimately, the new branch of the agency will open more doors for artists, and there are no negative repercussions of greater opportunity.