Monday, November 19, 2018

No More Museum Shenanigans

The New York Times reported yesterday that The Association of Art Museum Directors “will announce new guidelines on Wednesday for how their institutions should collect antiquities[.]…The Association … says the new policy will probably make it even more difficult for museums to build antiquities collections through purchases or… through gifts and bequests from wealthy private collectors. But they assert that the change will help stanch the flow of objects illegally dug up from archaeological sites or other places. The new policy advises museums that they ‘normally should not’ acquire a work unless solid proof exists that the object was outside its country of probable modern discovery before 1970, or was legally exported from its probable country of modern discovery after 1970.”


Imminent Lawless Action

So we know we can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, but we can say the word fire. As always, over at Donn Zaretsky’s Art Law Blog there’s an interesting story concerning a performance art piece, “assasination” language, and what were the two Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“Performance artist Yazmany Arboleda set up a show called ‘The Assassination of Hillary Clinton/The Assassination of Barack Obama’ in a storefront across the street from the New York Times offices in Midtown.” According to Arboleda, “It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination — about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media. … It’s about the media.” Zaretsky points out that according to the New York Times, “[t]he police and Secret Service promptly shut it down.” Donn has an update and analysis of this issue and story by Eugene Volokh.


Louis Vuitton: The Road to Darfur Paved With Lawsuits (UPDATE #2)

Update 2: We just noticed this notice on Plasner’s website: “I have agreed with LV’s lawyers to stop commenting on the case and to cease the sales of Simple Living products while we are working towards a solution.” Must of been some meeting on May 31st!

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“Some [Museums]…feel they need armed officers…”

(Felix Gonzalez-Torres candy piece, part of an exhibition entitled, “America”)

We had a conversation involving Felix Gonzalez-Torres last night, specifically concerning his candy and stacks of paper pieces. There is something quite compelling and, dare we say, beautiful about approaching an artwork and being able to take part of it with you (or all of it for that matter). What makes Gonzalez-Torres’ work even more compelling is the fact that his work, when exhibited in a museum, is one of the few if not the only one which does not require the hawk-like presence of security guards. Ironically, an article appeared in today’s Los Angeles Times describing the presence of armed guards at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA).

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“A handshake…doesn’t cut it any more” has a very interesting article regarding the increase in lawsuits and litigation in the “artworld,” as well as a realization of the importance of having written agreements between art collectors, sellers, and artists. The article indicates a move by certain U.S. law firms to initiate artlaw departments.

“The art of making an art deal used to involve a handshake, but these days it increasingly involves litigation…. ‘A handshake, unfortunately, doesn’t cut it any more,’ said Alan Effron, a litigation partner at New York’s Pelosi Wolf Effron & Spates.

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Battle of the Dolls

(The Bratz)

The copyright infringement trial between Mattel Inc. and MGA (owner of the Bratz doll) has just gotten underway. Mattel basically argues that the designer of the Bratz dolls, Carter Bryant, was under contract with them during the time he designed these dolls. Under this contract, Mattel would have ownership of these designs. Mattel adds that MGA lacked the creativity to design these dolls, so “[MGA] thought the best way was to go out and take one.” We’re not doll connoisseurs, but these Bratz do look quite a bit like a poor girl’s Barbie (or else they’re from Florida). More on this at


Illegal Art and VARA

William Patry comments on an interesting law article dissecting whether or not the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) applies to art which is illegally installed on another person or company’s property. Patry cites a previous New York court ruling where the Court held that “VARA does not apply to artwork that is illegally placed on the property of others, without their consent, when such artwork cannot be removed from the site in question.” Seems that unless eventual destruction is part of the “installed” project’s concept there’s not much protection for interventionist artists. We have a feeling this is not the last time we’ll hear about this issue.


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