Sunday, February 18, 2018

The old case about Paul Chan and plagiarism


A few nights ago someone asked me (and incidentally reminded me) about a situation where a visiting artist, Paul Chan, copied an artwork, without permission, from a Northwestern University MFA art student. Apparently there’s not much “out there” in the ether-world on this situation, but I did find this post from Christopher Howard, with ample information on the Chan-copying controversy.

The copied artwork was of the famous George Bush flight-suit banner aboard an aircraft carrier that read, “Mission Accomplished.”

A snippet,

as a visiting artist at Northwestern in spring 2006, Chan saw a work by one student in her studio that he really liked: a banner with the words “mission accomplished” on them. He told her that she should really do something with the work, which she was unsure about. The matter dropped, at least until the summer, when a Hong Kong arts center asked him to contribute a work to a benefit. He also had a solo show there. For the benefit, he re-created that same banner. But it didn’t sell. A couple months later, in the fall, Chan was asked to participate in a group show at Serpentine Gallery in London. He made an edition of twenty, again, none of which sold. (Perhaps it was the edition in China—my memory is fuzzy.) When the work was in London, he e-mailed the student artist in order to share credit (and income, if there would be any). Responding a couple weeks later, she totally freaked out. A few weeks after that, Chan was contacted by lawyers at Northwestern.

More via Howard’s In Terms Of blog, here.


UCLA Law School to create Chris Cornell Scholarship with $1-million endowment gift

The Chris Cornell Scholarship, named for the late Soundgarden/Audioslave singer and songwriter, is being launched at the UCLA School of Law with a gift of $1 million from a coalition led by the late musician’s wife, Vicky Cornell.

“This endowment honors an influential musical artist who cared about human rights and enables others the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement.

If only more visual artists did this kind of thing. More via the LA Times.


Should government define art and promote aesthetic values?


A good friend of ours, Brian Soucek, of the UC Davis School of Law, recently published a law review article answering this question. Here’s the abstract,

Almost no one thinks the government should decide what counts as art or what has aesthetic value. But the government often does so, and often, it should. State actors — from judges and legislators down to customs officials and members of local zoning boards — make aesthetic judgments every day, in areas ranging from tax and tariff law to obscenity and public-funding decisions, from historic preservation and land-use regulations to copyright, trademark, and patent law.

This Article details the breadth and surprising philosophical depth of the law’s engagement with aesthetic questions. And bucking conventional wisdom, it argues that in many areas of law, government should define artistic categories and promote aesthetic values. The usual reasons for treating aesthetic judgment as what Justice Holmes famously called a “dangerous undertaking” turn out to be bad ones. Arguments based on the expertise of judges or the subjectivity of aesthetic judgment are not just unconvincing, they are in tension with one another. And the one persuasive argument — derived from the First Amendment’s prohibition on government-imposed orthodoxies — applies only as far as the First Amendment itself does. This Article offers a framework for deciding when the First Amendment limits aesthetic judgment in law. And in doing so, it also identifies appropriate sites of aesthetic judgment — places where we need more open debate about the substantive aesthetic values we want the law to endorse.

Brian’s paper is available here, via SSRN.


Art will give you indigestion

It’s a super-silly question to which Artsy’s Isaac Kaplan has a few answers.


How to open your own art museum

If you’re tired of donating art from your private art collection, or you’d like to curate your own rigorous art exhibitions, here’s a good option (WSJ subscription required).


Thinking of joining a nonprofit board?

If you’ve ever been asked to join an arts nonprofit, or thought about making yourself available, here are some things to think about before you make the big leap.

Lots of perks to these board member positions, but also quite a few burdens. Think about it. (WSJ subscription required.)


NYC’s Met Museum doesn’t bow down to censorship pressure

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has decided not to take down a Balthus painting of a young girl, Thérèse Dreaming (1938), that an online petition calls “sexually suggestive”.

It’s good to see that some art institutions are standing by artistic expression. More here.



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