Saturday, January 19, 2019

Would U.S. resale royalties help historically disadvantaged artists?

The introduction of droit de suite legislation in the US would help rectify this inconvenience for well-known contemporary artists like [Kerry James] Marshall but it would be an even bigger boon for historically disadvantaged artists who have been left out of the American cannon of art for reasons of race, gender or other socio-economic limitations. This is especially true of the many artists who lack representation or a presence in the art market until the end of their careers or posthumously.

But even if there is a federal resale royalty, the current proposal doesn’t seem like enough. For instance,

The ART Act could provide a small measure of equity to artists by allowing them a 5% royalty of the price paid for their work within 90 days when it is resold at auction. But the terms are still limited—all art sold for less than $5,000 is exempted, and the 5% royalty is capped at $35,000 regardless of how much the work sells for.

So if a buyer purchased a painting from a recent MFA grad for $5,000, and then resold it for $5,000,000, the artist would only receive $35,000 instead of $250,000. That’s a huge difference. So why the delay in passing the bill?

More here.


On branding and the artworld

More on the corporation as artist.


Art and Law Discussion and Book Launch – Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America, Joan Kee in conversation with Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

booklaunch-kee-sarmiento-cornellJoin us to celebrate the launch of Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America by Joan Kee. Kee will be in conversation with art lawyer, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. Reception will follow.

Joan Kee, Associate Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan, former lawyer in Hong Kong and New York, and author of numerous articles on contemporary art and law on topics such as artistic uses of police evidence, stalking and harassment, property laws and contemporary Chinese art, and artists’ rights. Her book, published by University of California Press, examines the relationship between contemporary art and the law through the lens of integrity, and how in the 1960s, artists began to engage conspicuously with legal ideas, rituals, and documents.

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento is an arts lawyer and founding director of The Art & Law Program. He is interested in the relationship between art and the law, with a specific focus on tangible and intangible property, freedom of expression, and outlaw culture. He has lectured, taught and written on art law matters in a wide range of institutions and publications. Sarmiento represents and advises visual artists and art’s institutions in matters and disputes related to intellectual property, contracts, artist legacies, and tax-exempt entities.


Thursday, February 14, 2019
5:00pm to 7:00pm
ILR Conference Center, Cornell University
570 Lexington Avenue, 12th Floor
New York New York 10022

RSVP encouraged and appreciated

Please e-mail if you plan on attending. Please note that submitting an RSVP for this event does not guarantee entrance. This is a free-access event—entrance will be on a first-come, first served basis. This event takes place in New York City and during the CAA conference. The ILR Conference Center is a 10-minute walk from the New York Hilton Midtown.

This event is organized and sponsored by Cornell Law School and The Art & Law Program.

About the Book
Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties Americaexamines the relationship between contemporary art and the law through the lens of integrity. In the 1960s, artists began to engage conspicuously with legal ideas, rituals, and documents. The law—a primary institution subject to intense moral and political scrutiny—was a widely recognized source of authority to audiences inside the art world and out. Artists frequently engaged with the law in ways that signaled a recuperation of the integrity that they believed had been compromised by the very institutions entrusted with establishing standards of just conduct. These artists sought to convey the social purpose of an artwork without overstating its political impact and without losing sight of how aesthetic decisions compel audiences to see their everyday world differently. Addressing the role that law plays in enabling artworks to function as social and political forces, this important book fills a gap in the field of law and the humanities, and will serve as a practical “how-to” for contemporary artists.

About Cornell Law School
Cornell Law School combines cutting-edge legal scholarship, inspiring teaching, and a close-knit, intellectually rich environment. In recent years, it has ranked number three in job placement among all law schools and has been rated the most diverse top law school in the country. For more information visit

About The Art & Law Program
The Art & Law Program is a seminar-colloquium that focuses on the study of law as a linguistic system, institutional force and power structure, with a particular focus on how the discourses and practices of law and visual culture impact each other, self-governance, history, and culture. The Program consists of a nonpartisan community that aims to attract individuals in the areas of visual art, architecture, criticism, art history, curating, and film. This list is non-exclusive. Artists with non-traditional cultural practices are especially encouraged to apply, as are cultural producers interested in the study of law. For more information visit


“Morality clauses” and the chilling of speech


This NY Times op-ed has me wondering why writers–of any caliber and subject matter–still find it so attractive to publish via third parties. Of course, if that publisher gives the writer carte blanche, and all intellectual property rights to the work, then so much the better. But if writers, most of whom already self-censor, are also asked to sign an agreement containing a “morality clause” allowing their publisher to cancel the publication of that author’s text based on the author’s “activity” that the publisher deems to be “immoral” or “scandalous,” then clearly the author is obliged to follow certain codes of conduct and speech, i.e.- don’t take positions or make arguments against ideas and groups currently in vogue.

What a time we live in. Once upon a time, writers, like visual artists, were the ones countering the status quo and social norms (oh, Sade. Where are you?). Which makes me wonder, how long before we see these “morality clauses” in visual art?


SCOTUS to decide whether “FUCT” gets trademark registration

A year and half ago SCOTUS decided that “disparaging” brands could obtain federal trademark protection. Now SCOTUS will decide whether “lewd” or “vulgar” brands can also obtain the same perks and privileges.

The US Patent and Trademark Office defines “scandalous” marks as those that a substantial composite of the general public would find “‘shocking to the sense of truth, decency, or propriety; disgraceful; offensive; disreputable; .?.?. giving offense to the conscience or moral feelings; .?.?. or calling out for condemnation.”

I agree with Ilya Shapiro regarding this type of government intervention,

The Supreme Court should recognize that trademarks are in no way official speech and reaffirm that the government may not put its thumb on the scale to push controversial viewpoints out of the public square. Everyone who sometimes finds himself lumped into a “basket of deplorables” – now, that’s a great band name! – should hope that the court lets the people judge for themselves what’s derogatory.

If we’re correct, seems likely SCOTUS will follow their Matal v. Tam decision. So what about “Pho Keene Great”?


Case against Artforum and Knight Landesman dismissed

New York’s Supreme Court has dismissed a case against Artforum International Magazine, Inc., and the publication’s former publisher, Knight Landesman, whom curator and art fair director Amanda Schmitt claimed had sexually harassed her via “unwelcome physical contact and repulsive written and oral demands for intimacy” while she was an employee at the magazine.

More here.


For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain in 2019

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). (1915-23). Oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels. 109 1/4" x 69 1/4". Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). (1915-23). Oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels. 109 1/4″ x 69 1/4″. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, all works first published in the United States in 1923 will enter the public domain. It has been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S.

So, for example, Duchamp’s “The Bride stripped Bare…” will be in the public domain in the U.S.
More here.

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