Artist Contracts in the Political Economy will examine how artists utilize contracts to intervene in the legal framings, transactional structures, property relations, and labor conditions that artistic production operates within. The book’s central claim is that while resisting the law as a neutral framework of conduct, artists have initiated contractual situations and implemented legal agreements that transform the relations and conditions of their work, thereby redefining what constitutes art practice today. Through a close reading of distinct legal contracts drafted by artists, the book seeks to recognize the extent to which rights litigation that is bound to artistic interests may critically respond to an art field that has become yet another site in everyday life where socially accepted and legally legitimated economic violence is prevalent. While emphasizing artists’ contract writings, the book also draws from comparative legal scholarship in the fields of critical race theory, feminist legal theory, critical tax theory, and labor law to consider, ultimately, how histories of artist contracts intersect with broader struggles to assert rights within a legal order that too often merely codifies what dominant economic authority has qualified as justice.

Eric Golo Stone is a writer, artist, and curator whose varied practices consistently examine the structural conditions and social relations that constitute the field of art. His writing has been published in Afterall, October, and Flash Art, among other publications.