Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nazi Art Theft on National Geographic Channel

If you’re interested in repatriation, art crimes, and Nazi art thefts of the 20th Century, the National Geographic Channel has a series on just this topic.

An epic story of the theft, destruction and miraculous survival of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich and World War II. In a journey through seven countries, Nazi Art Theft will take you into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But heroic young art historians and curators from America and across Europe fought back with an extraordinary campaign to rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures. Now, more than sixty years later, the legacy of this tragic history continues to play out as families of looted collectors recover major works of art, conservators repair battle damage, and nations fight over the fate of ill-gotten spoils of war.


Yale: Lawsuit Over Van Gogh Imperils Global Art Market

A continuation of the lawsuit filed in March of ’09.

The ownership of tens of billions of dollars of art and other goods could be thrown into doubt if a lawsuit seeking the return of a famous Vincent Van Gogh painting is successful, according to a court filing by Yale University.

More from the Boston Globe.


Brooklyn Museum Embezzler

A former payroll manager at the Brooklyn Museum pleaded guilty this week to embezzling $620,000 by cutting paychecks to phony staff.  Dwight Newton admitted committing wire fraud by creating phantom workers and wiring money directly into the joint bank account that he shared with his wife. “I transferred money that was not entitled to me,” Newton told the judge. More from the New York Post here.


Is Artist Barred from Selling His Own Artwork?


But more importantly who will win the BCS title? And a quick note and correction out there, the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Alabama Crimson Tide will be on January 7th, at 8pm EST, not January 8. I strongly believe the Longhorns will surprise again as they did in 2005 against USC. Any takers?

Now the legal part. The artist who made paintings inspired by the Alabama Crimson Tide football team was sued by the University of Alabama for trademark infringement. The Tide lost. Now the artist, Daniel Moore, objects to a “part of a judge’s order that says he can’t reproduce his artwork for things such as calendars.” It seems pretty clear cut. If Moore owns the copyrights to his own paintings, and they don’t include any Tide logo or trademarks, then it seems to me he’s in the clear. We’ll see.

Via Donn Zaretsky.


Artist Sues Art Supply Store

No kidding.  Artist Juan Carlos Macias alleges that an art supplies store sold him defective art supplies, including a professional-grade gloss, which caused at least 12 of his paintings and artworks to deteriorate, fade and deform. 

“The way it is being portrayed is inaccurate and inappropriate,” said general manager Jim Gay. “The thing I find particularly annoying is that it is being portrayed as though we knowingly sold defective merchandise, and of course there is no evidence that there was defective merchandise.” 

Thanks to TopArtNews (via Twitter) for spotting this story. More from the Chicago Tribune here.


Futures of Criticism: Clancco at 2010 CAA Conference

A bit of shameless self-promotion. Lane Relyea, Associate Professor of Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University, asked me to participate on his panel, Futures of Criticism, at the 2010 CAA Conference in Chicago. I am extremely honored to have been asked to participate on this panel concerning art criticism with other distinguished presenters (see below for more info).  Please let me know if you’ll be attending. I look forward to seeing you.

Here’s an abstract on what I’ll be speaking about at the Conference.

Who Needs an Art Critic:  Law and the Space of Writing

Art critics currently employ an incestuous language (anti-capitalist, leftist, politically correct) which has become not only irrelevant to cultural analysis, but also deleterious to the relevance of art and art criticism.

Artists and art critics have always looked outside their disciplines for ”alternative” ideologies and discourses to inform – and mirror – their own productions.  Sadly, these discourses have become stale, predictable and impotent.  In a glaring example of adherence to a tired dialogue, classic leftists and art critics alike profess to abhor law and its structures, yet hypocritically embrace those structures when politically and culturally convenient.      

This paper will cover three topics:  law as its own artistic space; how textualist legal writings and interpretations can breathe life into a dying art criticism; and how the impact of law on cultural production and reception provides a fresh and relevant mode of art criticism.

Futures of Criticism

Thursday, February 11, 9:30 AM–12:00 PM
Grand B, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

Chair: Lane Relyea, Northwestern University

Criticality, Critique, Critical Practice
Gail Day, University of Leeds

The Critique of the Incitement to Discourse and the Basic Problems of Phenomenology: Two or Three Critical Models in/around Tino Sehgal
David Lewis, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Who Needs an Art Critic: Law and the Space of Writing
Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, Clancco: Art and Law

Historicizing Contemporary Art: The Living, the Dead, and the Undead
Simone Osthoff, Pennsylvania State University

Criticisms, Publics, Communities
Frazer Ward, Smith College


Is Smashing a Gallery Window Art?

Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t legal consequences. From today’s Guardian:

Does breaking a window count as art? Yes, murmured the 50 or so artniks who recently crowded into a former Edinburgh ambulance garage to view a film of sculptor Kevin Harman doing just that. No, insisted Kate Gray, director of the Collective Gallery in Cockburn Street, whose window it was. The courts are on Gray’s side.

For those of you thinking “free speech,” not so fast. Remember that although non-verbal expression may be protected as speech under US law, not all non-verbal expression is granted First Amendment protection. The non-verbal expression with a message (content) may still be regulated by laws so long as the laws are not targeting the content of the speech (or act), but rather serve an important societal goal (in this case keeping individuals from shattering or breaking windows on private property. If anyone has information on UK laws governing non-verbal expression, please let me know at

You can also view a video of Harman shattering the gallery window here.


Clancco, Clancco: The Source for Art & Law,, and Art & Law are trademarks owned by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. The views expressed on this site are those of Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento and of the artists and writers who submit to They are not the views of any other organization, legal or otherwise. All content contained on or made available through is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed, nor is anything submitted to treated as confidential.

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