Control is all well and good and is part of what makes income recieved, but according to my EA Bro, you also generally need a *Benefit * also. Now, if in our OP’s case, the Artist did not attempt to claim a Contribution, there’d be no *Benefit * to him, thus no *Income. * If this occurred and the IRS tried to turn this into a Taxable event, my Bro sez that the 9th Circuit would laugh it out of their Court. My Bro sez he is making the following assumption- that the artist worded it like “I like dudes who donate to this cause- so donate heavily to it and I’ll gift you with a painting”.
However, still, it all depends. Say the Artist donated the art to the Org, then the patron sent a donation to the Org and got the art back in exchange. In this case, the Artist would get a Contribution- how much is VERY complicated, however. But in general, the Patron would not get a deduction unless his “donation” was higher than the “FMV” of the art.
If the Patron wrote the check to the artist then the artist signed it over to the Org, then it’d be a different kettle of fish- the Artist would likely be taxed and then get a deduction for the same amount (which might not all be deudctable in one year due to AGI limitations).
Control does not mean Income- the Directors of a 501C Non-Profit have Control over where their Org’s money goes, but that doesn’t mean those gifts become Income to them.