The Artist's Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement (also known as the Artist's Contract) was created by curator, dealer, and publisher of conceptual art Seth Siegelaub, and lawyer Robert Projansky. The Artist's Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, according to Siegelaub, defined and attempted to protect the rights and interests of the artist as their work circulated within the art world system.
The Artist's Contract was first published by the School of Visual Arts, New York, as a fold out poster. One side features an introductory text by Siegelaub on the need for artists to have such a document, and on the reverse is the contract itself, authored by Projansky. The contract side of the poster, or the final page of the contract, features a form that must be signed by the artist and the collector of their work, and is intended to be affixed to the artwork itself. Artists were encouraged to reprint the document multiple times and to use it in any transfer of their work.
The Contract remains controversial for including clauses that are atypical for the terms governing the sale of artworks, requiring that artists must approve of any exhibition of their work, and that collectors agree to give the artist a resale royalty of 15% of the increase in price over the initial sale. In addition to receiving this royalty, artists would also receive the name of the new collector.
The Artist's Contract was translated into French, German, Dutch and Italian in the early 1970s. A new Dutch translation was produced for the exhibition "Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art" at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2015. The French version of the Contract was edited by lawyer Michel Claura to be appropriate for use in the French legal context.
The Artists Contract has been republished numerous times in art magazines and art historical studies, and legal resource books. Arts magazines in which The Contract was reproduced include: Studio International, April 1971; Art News, April 1971; Arts Canada, April 1971; Domus, April 1971; New York Element, June–July 1971; museumjournaal, September 1971; documenta 5, 1972; Bulletin, October 1972; Leonardo, June 1973
A PDF of the Artists Contract is available through Primary Information
In 2009 German artist Maria Eichhorn produced the book The Artists Contract featuring interviews with artists using the contract Jackie Windsor and Hans Haacke, and others who were present for its development, including Lawrence Weiner, Robert Barry, Carl Andre, and others. Artist Adrian Piper, who uses a modified version in the sale of her work, was interviewed as well.