Art Term Tuesday: Commissioned Artwork

Kaitlin Binkley, Marketing Coordinator

June is here and so is summer! Warm sun, cool pool parties, and endless summer nights at the lake! If you need a break from summer break this month, come by the museum and take in the art we have currently on display. Some of our favorite artworks on view are our permanent commissioned murals by the artists Nosego (below, left) and St. Monci (below, right). In this Art Term Tuesday, we’ll talk about what a commission is and how these great artists came to spend a week each in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art creating their murals.

To commission artwork is to “formally request to produce something in exchange for payment.” It has historically been a way to show off the power of the wealthy and rulers of a society. Commissions can be public, like the grand Roman Colosseum, or private, like when a wealthy individual gets a portrait painted of themselves or their families. In the Renaissance it was popular to commission artworks, as merchants and officials had an abundance of wealth to spend, and, by extension, flaunt to the public. Some of the most famous artworks you can think of were created on commission during this time.

Seen below, our commissioned artists worked at FWMoA for a week to finish their commissions.

Many great artists made their living from commissions. Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to create The Last Supper and Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, despite the fact he was primarily a sculptor. These artists were approached to create something specific, guided by another’s vision. This is what separates commissioned artists from freelance artists, but there is significant overlap. Freelance artists, in modern times, make their living from accepting multiple jobs and getting paid upon the completion of each. They are asked to create whatever is necessary for a project, but given a significant amount of creative control. A freelance artist is often working for many clients at one time. They seek out their clients, participating in a “bidding” process to “win” the job against many other freelance artists. A modern commission artist is sought after and asked to create a specific piece with defined expectations that both parties agree upon. Once the piece is completed, the artist is paid a predetermined price.

St. Monci's abstract artworks are blue, black, and yellow lines, of varying lengths and thicknesses, against a white background.
The two murals, created by artist St. Monci, that hang over FWMoA’s atrium. Michael Moncibais “St. Monci.” Double Vision. Mural, 2017. Museum Commission 2017. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

This is how the artists Nosego and St. Monci came to create murals in the museum. Through our personal connections to the artists, we approached them to create in a specific space with a specific stipend, or amount of payment, in mind. We asked Nosego to create something children could enjoy looking at and asked St. Monci to be inspired by the space where the work would be displayed. We did give them a lot of creative control, only limiting them by space and allotted time, the art museum wall and one week. They both knocked it out of the park! Now both their works reside permanently in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, waiting for you to see in person!

Above, Nosego’s murals on either side of the Learning Center doors.

Ready to go back outside and enjoy the sunshine? Go check out the commissioned murals hidden around downtown Fort Wayne! Can you find the one done by Nosego? Hint: Follow the smell of pizza! The newest mural was finished days ago, by German artist 1010, have you seen it yet?

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