Monday, September 25, 2023

Are Judges the New Art Critics?

I’ve been posing this question for a few years now, and my answer to that question, “yes,” has been validated by Judge Batts in the Cariou v. Prince district court decision.When Batts asked Prince why he thought a particular image was worth appropriating, she did what many in the so-called art world have ceased to do, she asked “why?”

The Wall Street Journal’s Eric Felten takes on this question via recent legal cases involving Richard Prince, Cady Noland, and Sol Lewitt.

Judges aren’t necessarily bad at making aesthetic judgments (though goodness knows plenty are). Jonathan Gilmore, who teaches philosophy of art at Yale, credits courts for dealing with aesthetic issues in a way that can be more thorough than the ivory-tower boys, because “a court is required to make explicit its reasoning.”


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