Thursday, October 29, 2020

“As Is”

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article concerning restoration of artworks. Some very important legal issues come to light in this article, two explicitly and some implicitly.

On the issue of whether or not an original artist has, or will have, any say in terms of restoration, this bit.

Glenn Wharton, a “time-based media” conservator at the Museum of Modern Art, agreed, claiming that “I’m all about working with artists, when artists are still alive,” although he noted that “when artwork is sold, other players come into the picture and the artists give up some of their rights.”

In terms of whether or not an artist has a legal duty to restore or participate in the restoration of the damaged artwork:

An artist’s sense of obligation to his or her work sometimes may be time-limited, contracturally — public art commissions usually contain a clause in the agreement stipulating the artist’s responsibility for “patent or latent defects in workmanship” for between one and three years — or because of evolutionary changes in the artist’s life and work.

But what happens when an art work cannot be repaired to its original condition for reasons outside the artist, collector, or conservator’s control? What if some materials are no longer in circulation, either due to natural reasons or commercial reasons?


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