Friday, December 6, 2019

“Merry Christmas to all the attorneys.”

Here’s one thing that happens when artists don’t get their estate matters in order. Since the death of artist Robert Indiana,

The law firm of Hogan Lovells LLP, based in London and Washington, D.C. has been paid $1,562,040. The law firm of Venable LLP, based in Washington, D.C., has been paid $1,397,611. Pierce Atwood LLP of Portland has been paid $211,907, Preti Flaherty of Portland has been paid $96,303, LeBlanc & Young LLP of Portland has been paid $16,128, and attorney Kelly Mellenthin has been paid $645.

Attorney James Brannan of Rockland, who represents the estate, has been paid $550,000 as personal representative which includes expenses he has incurred for the estate.

Apparently, the value of Indiana’s estate is approaching $100 million, and expected to go over that amount. Merry Christmas indeed!


Mine? Or Yours? Jill Magid and Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

I received two emails last week asking about this event and video, and figured it would be a good time to revisit this conversation between myself and Jill Magid.

This event/conversation on intellectual and cultural property took place in February of 2014 at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. A brief description of the event/conversation is below. You may view the entire video of the conversation and Q&A, here.

At a time when global exchanges are de rigueur, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, in collaboration with The Art & Law Program, presents a conversation on intellectual property, local culture, and international commerce between VLC Fellow Jill Magid and artist and art lawyer Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, facilitated by VLC director Carin Kuoni.

The conversation is anchored by artist Jill Magid’s current project, The Barragán Archives, a long-term multimedia examination of the legacy of Luis Barragán (1902–1988), one of Mexico’s most influential architects and the second winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize (1980)—often labeled the “Nobel of Architecture.” Along with the vast majority of his architecture, Barragán’s personal archive remains in Mexico while his professional archive, including the rights to his name and work, was acquired in 1995 by Swiss furniture company Vitra, under the auspices of the newly founded Barragan Foundation. In the distance alone between archive and work arises the potential for conflict.

Framed by a discussion of the relationship between art, law, and cultural property, Magid and Muñoz Sarmiento examine the repercussions of the privatization of an artist’s (or architect’s) life work. Does private ownership, often softened by well-funded infrastructures, facilitate public access to an artist’s work or, conversely, does it restrict access? What are the legal “fictions” and cultural stories—such as Magid’s project—facilitated by such proprietary structures, and what significance and impact do they have in regards to the physical objects? Can personal and private interests align with commercial and legal agendas in ways that are productive and beneficial to a general public?

Carin Kuoni, director/curator, Vera List Center
Jill Magid, artist and 2013–2015 Vera List Center Fellow
Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, art lawyer and founder of The Art & Law Program


Goodbye Art World, Hello Art Industry

For the past three years I’ve been using the term “art industry” in my seminars and lectures to describe the recent state of the “art world.” In brief, I think this better encapsulates the tide of, say, the last five years. By using “industry” instead of “world” or “market” I think we can better understand how visual art, certainly in the U.S. and probably globally, mirrors the state of the Hollywood movie industry.

Artnet’s Tim Schneider writes this morning about a few reasons why we have an “industry” and not a “world.” Enjoy!


“Very few artists are going to have the guts to say no to millions of dollars, because that’s what it is.”

Art dealer Stefania Bortolami on how artists could really make an impact in the art industry. And her answer is not more protests or board member removals.

Certificates of authenticity as legal instruments?

Peter Karol of New England Law,

Artists have been dramatically reshaping the fine art certificate of authenticity since the 1960s. Where traditional certificates merely certified extant objects as authentic works of a named artist, newer instruments purported both to authorize the creation of unbuilt artworks and instruct buyers how to manifest and install them. Such “Permissive Certificates” have fascinated contemporary art historians ever since. Prior scholarship has shown how such documents, essentially blueprints for art creation, force us to confront fundamental ontological questions on the nature of art, the relationship between artist, collector and viewer, and the influence of money and acquisitiveness on art generation. But rarely, if ever, have they been approached as legal instruments.

Abstract and downloadable pdf available here.


Sex With 3D Avatars of Exes and Celebs?

Apparently so.

On forums like Reddit, marketplaces like Patreon, and on standalone websites, communities of anonymous users are making, selling, and getting off to the computer-generated likenesses of celebrities and other real people. The 3D models that emerge from these communities can be articulated into any position, animated, modified, interacted with in real time, and manipulated in ways that defy the constraints of physical reality.

More here.


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.


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