Contracts with galleries can vary from a simple consignment of one piece of work to an ongoing representation arrangement, under which the gallery has certain rights to represent more of the artist’s work. . . .
One danger facing the artist is the possibility that the gallery may go bankrupt. If this happens, creditors of the gallery may have a right to seize consigned artwork. Many states have enacted laws to protect the artist from such seizures. However, the artist must check on a state-by-state basis to determine the status of the law. One way to do this is to contact the nearest group of volunteer lawyers for the arts. Insofar as possible, the artist must verify that the gallery is stable financially. Of course, it can be difficult to know what goes on behind the scenes at an apparently successful enterprise. But late payments to other artists or suppliers certainly suggest economic difficulty. In any case, one might want to obtain a security interest in the work in order to have a right to the work even if the gallery does go bankrupt.
Mr. Crawford’s book Legal Guide for the Visual Artist should be on every artist’s shelf. He also has Business and Legal forms for Fine Artists–way cool because it includes a CD with all of the forms on it! He really makes it easy.