Tuesday, August 3, 2021

“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”

Law.com 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 Law.com.


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.


Can’t Afford Your Mortgage? Call It Art

(Kaufmann Desert House, by Richard Neutra)

Ok, it’s not just any house. It’s Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House, auctioned off for $15 million last week, and originally estimated by Christie’s to sell for $25 million. NPR reported last week that with the housing market going down in flames, “certain properties are being…auctioned as art.” However, “it helps when they have a name like Richard Neutra or Louis Kahn attached to them.” Check it at All Things Considered.


And You Thought U.S. Copyright Was Bad

Today’s NY Times has an interesting article on cultural appropriation and sex. Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History had a problem with advertising images of a famous Mexican actress, Irán Castillo, “wearing” Mexican cultural icons on her “curvaceous” nude body. The cultural icons were digitally tattooed on her body and were meant to arouse touristic interest in the Mexican state of Hidalgo.


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Criticism Earns Artist Conviction

It’s safe to say that child pornography is reprehensible and without any merit. Wishing to make this point, an artist just experienced a great example of how even good intentions can go awry.

On Wednesday, May 21st, “the Helsinki District Court found [artist and scholar] Ulla Karttunen guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography in relation to controversial artwork that the 52-year-old created in order to criticize erotic images of children she discovered online. The court called the crime ‘a forgivable act’ and said it would be ‘unreasonable to impose a punishment, as the defendant has had the same goal as the lawmakers’ in wanting to eliminate child pornography, according to Agence France-Presse. However, Karttunen told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that she felt the ambiguous decision would make her seem even more culpable to the public, since she has been convicted but not punished. She also questioned why this material is so easily found online and why, instead of acting to remove it, the authorities instead pursued her for shining a light on the issue.” More from the CBC.


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