Giacometti Foundation: Intellectual Property Law Is Largely Ignored by the Art World
Interestingly — and to my knowledge– this story has received very little press.
Véronique Wiesinger, director of the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation in Paris, writes about The Giacometti Foundation’s (the majority holder of Alberto Giacometti’s copyright) refusal to grant John Baldessari permission to duplicate a sculpture by Giacometti for an installation called “The Giacometti Variations” commissioned by the Prada Foundation in Milan (allegedly, French artist Daniel Buren has fully supported this position). At the Giacometti Foundation’s request, the exhibition was shut down and the case is pending in a Court in Milan.
Not only is Wiesinger adamant about the need for artists and arts institutions to respect copyright holders and artists’ copyrights, she fully supports the recent copyright spanking New York Judge Deborah Batts gave Richard Prince and Judge Denny Chins rejection of Google’s proposed settlement agreement with the Authors Guild of America.
Today intellectual property law is largely ignored by the art world. Museums commonly market unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted works from their collection. They exhibit “appropriation” artists’ works without ensuring that permissions of the “appropriated” authors have been secured. … The Cariou judgment reminds museums and dealers of their own liability. They can no longer hide behind the freedom of the appropriation artist, however famous he or she is.
Citing previous resolutions by the College Art Association and the Association of Art Museum Directors concerning the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property as well as guidelines concerning the unlawful appropriation of objects during the Nazi Era, Wiesinger pleads for a similar resolution concerning intellectual property, copyright, and fair use.
In 2011, it is time for museums, universities, and dealers to work with artists and estates to issue guidelines concerning uses of copyrighted artworks based on copyright law. This is the only way to avoid unnecessary litigation.
In this day and age of simulations, pretense, market forces, and political correctness, it takes cojones to take such a strong and well-argued position vis-a-vis cultural production — and more so when it’s done in writing. For pedagogical, conceptual, and aesthetic reasons, we are strong supporters of historic artists such as John Baldessari. However, we applaud The Giacommetti Foundation and Wiesinger for taking such a direct, strong, and critical stance regarding copyright and the current dismal state of artistic production.
Artinfo has Wiesinger’s entire article here.