Monday, February 19, 2007

"While artists are alive, their decision whether to exhibit work or not should be respected"

John Perreault defends Richard Prince against those who would find fault with his attitude toward a show of his early work at the Neuberger Museum. Perreault bases his argument, at least in part, on the Visual Artists Rights Act: while he correctly notes that "according to the letter of the law, [curator Michael] Lobel and the Neuberger are off the hook" -- among other things, VARA applies (with exceptions that don't appear to be relevant here) only to works created after Dec. 1, 1990, and allows an artist to "disclaim" authorship only in cases where there has been a distortion, mutilation, or modification of a covered work -- he argues that the "spirit of the law" is "you either respect the wishes of artists, or not." He says the "real issue is whether a living artist has authority over the display and the treatment of his or her work," and he thinks the answer is clearly yes.

My own, somewhat narrower defense of Prince is here.