Saturday, February 28, 2015

UCSD’s Conceptual Public Artwork Destroyed

Michael Asher

A rare permanently installed art project by Michael Asher has been destroyed. San Diego 6 and Hyperallergic have more on this story. I’d like to add that although the obvious question here is whether this project gets restored and how, one added question we have is how the answer to this question would differ if Asher were still alive.

You see, when it concerned his art projects, Asher’s way of thinking was that the events that unfolded due to an art projects reception and/or controversy would become part of the artwork. Most artists or their estates would react by having the work restored. However, having studied with Michael at CalArts, I’m not so sure he would have agreed. This poses an interesting question as to whether Asher left instructions regarding his art projects and legacy should such an event occur to one of his few existing projects. If not, then we’re left with his foundation, meaning that it will ultimately be up to the board members of that foundation to decide what to do with the destroyed water fountain.

If you’d like to read a bit more on this project, art historian Kirsi Peltomäki has some good thoughts on Asher’s water fountain and it’s relationship to Duchamp’s fountain and the historical legacy of public sculpture. Check out her book on Asher, Situation Aesthetics: The Work of Michael Asher.

Lastly, and sadly(?), no moral rights or VARA claims here. Asher is dead. However, certainly the water fountain’s owner and any other person or entity having any rights over Asher’s water fountain may have civil claims against the perpetrator. And of course, there are criminal charges that most likely will be brought as well.




Roberto Cavalli Still Fighting Trademark and Copyright Claims

Against three graffiti artists. This one’s a bit more interesting because now the artists are adding copyright’s brother, The Lanham Act, to the usual copyright claim.

The California  judge presiding over this dispute has allowed the case to proceed, and found last week “that the stylized signatures of prominent artists from a San Francisco mural could constitute copyright-identifying information, and the unauthorized inclusion of the artwork on Just Cavalli apparel sold at retailers such as Amazon and Nordstrom could constitute trademark infringement and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act.”


Artist Files Suit Against Swiss Watchmaker

Via Artinfo:

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater has filed an infringement suit against the Swatch Group, parent company of Omega watches, over an advertisement that bears a similarity to his work[.]


Appeals Court Rules US Post Office Must Pay Artist Another $540,000

Yes, the Gaylord v. US copyright infringement case is still going on. This time the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld an earlier decision against the United States Postal Service (USPS) that it must pay Frank Gaylord $540,000 (10%) for the unauthorized reproduction of his copyrighted Korean War Veterans Memorial on a postage stamp. Key here is that this is a ruling concerning only the unused postage stamps sold to collectors, which the trial court, relying on survey data, determined sold for a total of $5.4 million.

Via Artnew News. Background story here.


Target Wins First Amendment Fight with Rosa Parks Nonprofit


Via The AmLaw Litigation Daily,

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development sued Target in 2013, claiming it illegally profited from Parks’ fame and violated her publicity rights.

Target’s lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels didn’t dispute that the retailer had sold the Parks-themed merchandise in stores and online. But they asserted that Target had a right to sell the products under the First Amendment because they were all biographical works “relevant to matters of legitimate public concern.”

U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins in Montgomery agreed on Monday,  holding that the First Amendment shielded Target’s sales.


Speak What You Want to Speak: The Artwork of Jesse Howard

Jesse Howard, Untitled (God Bless the Owl), 1956.

Jesse Howard, Untitled (God Bless the Owl), 1956.

If you’re in St. Louis, seems like there’s an interesting exhibition over at the Contemporary Art Museum.

By all accounts, self-taught artist Jesse Howard was cantankerous. In middle of the last century, it wasn’t unusual to see hand-painted signs on country roads advertising a traveling fair or a farm sale. But Howard’s signs offered Bible verses. They proclaimed his anger at his neighbors and the government, and his disappointments with the world around him. “Every word I’m saying’s the truth,” the artist said of his work. “Every word.” … Speaking what he wanted to speak didn’t make life easy for Howard, but now at least people are listening.


Call for Applications: Curating Controversy: A Seminar for Art Curators

Tilted Arc

Tilted Arc, by Richard Serra. Originally installed at the Jacob Javits Federal Building, New York City, (1981-1989).

Given that it is curators who frame the context of an exhibition, during a controversy they are usually the ones to also negotiate with the hosting institution and the general public, handle the fallout of controversies, while also making decisions about keeping or removing specific works. The goal of this seminar series is to inform and equip curators with strategic and legal means with which to safeguard their curatorial vision and to negotiate effectively with diverse and interested parties.

This one-day series of four seminars will take place at NYU on March 28th, and offers curators the opportunity to discuss, among colleagues and with experts, the challenges of organizing and presenting exhibitions containing controversial work. The seminar sessions will be followed by an evening panel discussion that will be open to the public.

This seminar series consists of four seminars led by Johanna Burton, director and curator of education and public programs at the New Museum, Laura Raicovich, Director of the Queens Museum of Art, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, artist and art lawyer, and Robert Storr, artist and curator, Dean of the Yale School of Art.

Please feel free to distribute and disseminate this call for applications. Although the four day-time seminars are open to curators only, please note that the night-time panel discussion is open to the public. Applications are due February 27, 2015.

The workshop is organized by the Arts Advocacy Project at the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Visual Arts Administration M.A. Program, Department of Art and Art Professions at NYU Steinhardt and the Art & Law Program.


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