Thursday, November 14, 2019

Do artists who create non-commissioned works in the public and private realm have legal rights?

Image courtesy of Sebastian Alvarez. Via Wikipedia and Creative Commons License.

Join us next Monday in NYC at the Municipal Art Society for a discussion on just this question.

This edition of MAS’s Closer LOOK will examine the rights of artists who create non-commissioned works in the public and private realm. The whitewashing of Long Island City’s 5Pointz murals, as well as the placement of the Fearless Girl near Wall Street’s Charging Bull, are just a couple of high-profile examples that highlight the implications of the Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA). We intend to foster dialogue and understanding of VARA, exploring its legal framework, the concept of “permission”, and who benefits from artwork existing in a public or private space. MAS President Elizabeth Goldstein will moderate a conversation with arts lawyer, Sergio Muñoz-Sarmiento, public art critic and Co-Curator of Art in Ad Places, RJ Rushmore, artist and co-founding member of Tats Cru, Wilfredo “Bio” Feliciano, and Carey Clark, Visual Arts Director for THE POINT CDC.

Hosted at the MAS office in the landmark LOOK building, the Closer LOOK series features talks with policy, preservation, and planning experts exploring the current—and future—concerns facing New York City’s built environment.


More Instagram Controversy

Zöe Ligon, a Detroit-based sex educator and sex-toy store owner, is decrying the usage of her image by Prince in a work that is now on view in a just-opened show of his “Portraits” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit.

Here’s Ligon’s original Instagram post.

More here.


Supreme Court Agrees to Review Whether States Can Infringe Copyrights Without Repercussions

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether state governments have sovereign immunity from copyright lawsuits brought by private citizens. On Monday, the high court agreed to review a petition from Rick Allen’s Nautilus Productions, which is pursuing North Carolina and its Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for posting online footage of the remains of notorious pirate Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground at Beaufort, N.C., in 1718.

More here and via Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. An apologies for my lack of posts recently but it’s been a busy month.


On Harald Szeemann, grandfather of art curators

The 1972 Documenta, “When Attitudes Become Form” … proposed a more pervasive, even numinous conception of art that has endured ever since. It insisted that “art” is a whole bundle of activities, stretching past autonomous images and objects, that encompasses being an artist, speaking like an artist, and acting like an artist within a specific setting. It proposed that texts, recordings, and other forms of documentation were integral components of artistic creation, and that the eyes were insufficient to perceive a work of art in its totality. And it positioned the curator as an active agent in artistic creation, perhaps even an author or an Über-artist.

More here.


“In the process, they offered some ways in which an artist could reserve their rights and rebel against major museums.”

These days, artists demanding the removal of their works from exhibitions is a common tool in the arsenal of political protest. In the cases of both the Aichi Triennale and the Whitney Biennial , artists called for their works to be pulled amid protests over what was happening at those institutions. But in 1969, this was something novel.

Good article in Artnet news on the artist Takis’s entrance into MoMA in 1969 and removal of his own sculpture as an act of protest. The beginning of “artists’ rights” movement?


The Art & Law Program Announces Fall 2019 Fellows

The Art & Law Program is happy to announce the Fall 2019 Art & Law Fellows. Once again, our decision-making was extremely difficult given our applicant pool. The incoming group includes a broad and diverse range of artistic, intellectual and professional interests, and we very much look forward to working with them.

In the fall 2019, the Program will examine artists’ legacies and artists’ estates through the lens of tangible and intangible property, contracts, moral rights, freedom of expression, and corporations. This will allow the fellows an opportunity to examine how sectors of the art industry— such as academia, the gallery system, for-profit and non-profit institutions, auction houses, curatorial practices, and law—impact the practices, definitions and controversies of contemporary art. This is an updated list of the 2019 Fellows.

The Fall 2019 Fellows are:

Juliana Biondo
Carlos Jiménez Cahua
Ivana Dizdar
Claudia Fernandez
Mira Friedlaender
Kearra Amaya Gopee
Danny Greenberg
Shervone Neckles
Cassie Packard
Chris Rawson
Armando Rosales Rivero
Susan Rosenberg
Elizabeth Smolarz
Aden Solway

You may view the Fall 2019 Fellow bios here or at


George Washington High School Alumni Sue to Keep Mural on View

An alumni association filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the San Francisco Unified School District’s Board of Education over the board’s decision to cover up a 1936 mural by Victor Arnautoff, titled “Life of Washington.”

Readers following this story may remember that back in August the board voted 4-3 for the resolution to cover the decades-old mural inside George Washington High School with panels, in hopes of keeping innocent young ones from the ugliness of life.

More here.


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