Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Vivian Maier Dispute à Trois

The battle over artist’s “estates” continues.


Podcast: Charging Bull v. Fearless Girl, Cady Noland, 5Pointz, Moral Rights

Image courtesy of Sebastian Alvarez. Via Wikipedia and Creative Commons License.

Image courtesy of Sebastian Alvarez. Via Wikipedia and Creative Commons License.

Does an artist have the legal right to protect her work from the encroachment of another artist’s artwork? That’s the question facing Arturo Di Modica, creator of Wall Street’s iconic bronze Charging Bull, which last month was joined by another, more diminutive bronze called Fearless Girl. Di Modica argues the addition—which stares down his bull—changes the message of his work and violates his copyright and moral rights.

On this Artsy Podcast episode, two art lawyers—Yayoi Shionoiri, Senior Counsel at Artsy, and Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, art lawyer, professor, writer, and founder of New York’s Art & Law Program— discuss the U.S. law at the heart of Di Modica’s claim. That’s the Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA), which gives artists certain rights over their work. Though perhaps not a household name, VARA is a singular law that has had an outsized influence on the art world since its passage in 1990.

You may access the Artsy Podcast here.


A VARA Triumph, Detroit Mural Will Stay Put

It’s VARA craziness week.

According to the Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s “iconic” Illuminated Mural won’t be torn down. Apparently the artist and building owner announced last Thursday that they have reached a settlement agreement.

More here.


Calling Bull on Art

Image courtesy of Sebastian Alvarez. Via Wikipedia and Creative Commons License.

Image courtesy of Sebastian Alvarez. Via Wikipedia and Creative Commons License.

There’s been so much coverage of the Charging Bull-Fearless Girl controversy that it’s hard to keep track. So, what we’ll do here, in pure shameless self-promotion, is highlight two articles that quote our very own Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento.

Both articles (Artsy and the Christian Science Monitor) question whether an artist can “control the meaning” of her/his artwork. Although this is how recent media attention is spinning this dispute, we’re not so sure it’s about “control” so much as it’s about whether or not there are legitimate legal violations. The bull’s author, Arturo Di Modica, argues copyright, trademark and moral rights violations. Fair enough. Are there other claims? Perhaps, or, it depends, as most law professors would profess.

Nevertheless, we would encourage our readers to not get caught up on the usual frenzy (or libidinal intensity, as Lyotard would say) and misplaced energy of arguing that “art” is being silenced. Let’s not be too philanthropic with how we define “art.” Not every fart in the wind is worthy of being called art. If an “artist” broke into a home–your home, dear reader, your home–and dumped three tons of animal feces in the master bedroom and called it art, we would probably not have much difficulty agreeing that the “artist” (and her friends and critics) are free to call it “art” (even given that Piero Manzoni made a similar, albeit smaller, observation in 1961). But this would not–would not–preclude the home-owner (or you, dear reader, you, if it was your home), from hiring an attorney to come up with a litany of legal claims against said artiste! So, art? Yeah, maybe. Legal claims? Hell yeah.

Let’s be honest: once you’ve placed a urinal in a gallery, been shot in the arm with a rifle, masturbated under floorboards, and tattooed prostitutes as art, it’s intellectually dishonest to say that everything is art. It was.



Andy Warhol Foundation Strikes First, Arguing Fair Use

From the complaint.

From the complaint.

Yes, you read right. Usually appropriation artists are the ones getting sued first. But the law allows the soon-to-be-defendant the option to strike first.  That’s what the Andy Warhol Foundation has done. They’ve filed suit in the Southern District of New York against photographer Lynn Goldsmith arguing that Warhol’s use in 1984 of Goldsmith’s photograph is fair use and that Goldsmith knew about Warhol’s use since 1984, making her claim time-barred. Here’s the complaint via Eriq Garner of the Hollywood Reporter.

It’s an interesting read. Aside from the statue of limitations argument, the Warhol Foundation details what they argue are the visual “transformations” of Goldsmith’s photograph in Warhol’s work. As seen in the image above, these annotations are almost art works themselves.

This one will be interesting to watch, particularly if it sets a precedent–negative or positive–for this type of appropriation art.



“We are a museum, not a court of law”


During the opening at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo of “Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010,” some protesters distributed postcards with an image of Mendieta and the text: “Carl Andre is at MOCA Geffen. ¿Dónde está Ana Mendieta?” (Where is Ana Mendieta?).

The two images seen here were provided to Clancco by a source wishing to remain anonymous.

More via the LA Times.


New York’s Art Freeport Prepares to Open

And beware, “This is not a place for subterfuge or malfeasance.”


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