Friday, November 28, 2014
 

At What Point Does An Artist’s Work Destroy Another Artist’s Work?

Alexander CalderWe’ve hit on this question a few times in the last eight years or so (Clancco’s lifeline), and we’ve come up with interesting philosophical and legal answers.

Here we are again. Michigan artist, David Dodde, previously recast Alexander Calder’s large steel sculpture, La Grande Vitesse, with a garden theme as part of ArtPrize, the annual art exhibition and competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. By “recast,” and according to the LA Times, Dodde “affixed magnetic flowers, many hand-cut, to the 40-foot-high arches of the sculpture, in an attempt to add ‘whimsy.’”

Well, the Alexander Calder Foundation was certainly not pleased, calling the “remake” an “abomination.” The artist, and the city of Grand Rapids, quickly rethought their initial artistic gesture and opted to abide by the Foundation’s request and remove the magnetic flowers.
Legal issues aside, what’s the point of affixing magnetic flowers on an existing sculpture, in particular a Calder? And what was the curator who assisted Dodde on this thinking?

 

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Comments: 2

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  • Richard Altman

    You fail to understand that there are no moral rights here. VARA rights terminate when the artist dies. There may be a copyright claim (although it looks like fair use to me),but unless they sue, the Calder Foundation can bluster and call the work anything they like. The artist and the City should not have caved. You may not like what the artist did, but he had the right to do it. There’s no destruction here; the original survives.

     
     
     
  • Richard:
    I never stated there were moral rights or VARA issues at play here, not at all.

    One other commenter has agreed with you in that there was no “destruction.” This may be true in terms of physical act, but I do believe that Calder’s artwork, regardless of permanent physical alteration, was destroyed in both the intent of the artist (Calder) as well as in its physicality (even temporarily).

    Your “survival” argument collapses if we imagine the Calder piece being spray painted with enamel paint. It survives, but certainly not in its original and/or intended form.

    -sms

     
     
     
 
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