Thursday, April 13, 2017


Lots more coverage of the Fearless Girl-Charging Bull controversy, mentioned earlier here.  Here is James Barron in the NYT.  Here is the Washington Post.  And NPR here.

In Slate Christina Cauterucci claims that Di Modica makes a "very valid argument" that the city has altered his work -- potentially in violation of VARA -- "by adding another sculpture in direct conversation with his work without his sign-off."

At Above the Law, Joe Patrice responds:  "The hell are you talking about? Nothing about Fearless Girl diminishes the Bull or undermines Di Modica’s reputation as an artist."

Patrice also quotes NYU lawprof Chris Sprigman:  "God help any museum if this were the law. Imagine museums placing artwork and painter A asserting an intellectual property right not to be placed next to painter B."

Mike Masnick makes a similar point:  "The idea that a visual artist could block someone else from placing a work near their own work because it might change how people see the original would create major headaches around the globe. Imagine museum curators being forced to move works of art because an artist protests about how the work next to his or her own negatively impacts how people view it. That's insane."

As does NYU's Amy Adler (quoted here):  "At the end of the day, the artist has no claim, ... Under moral rights in this country, while you can sue for someone actually physically changing a sculpture, changing a sculpture by placing another sculpture near it is simply not actionable, ... We don’t want to let artists start suing curators because they don’t like who their work is displayed next to."  (She also adds:  "A policy that would allow one artist to stop another artist’s work would be a mistake. All public art is ideally in dialogue with the space it exists in. And that includes other sculptures.")

Nicholas O'Donnell says that "VARA confers a 'right of integrity' on works of recognized stature. ... The right of integrity is exactly what it sounds like: a protection against the physical, not the conceptual, integrity of the work."

And a dissenting view, from this Artsy piece:  "[T]eacher and lawyer Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, who founded New York’s Art & Law Program, thinks [VARA] could have a more expansive application. As it stands, the wording of the law never explicitly limits the definition of manipulation to physical alterations.  As such, Sarmiento believes that Di Modica does have 'legitimate claims' under VARA—which, despite being frequently invoked [in] this and other cases, remains 'very untested' in court. Sarmiento also noted that, depending on what constitutes the work, Charging Bull may also have been physically modified. The cobblestone around and under the bull ... was extended during the installation of Fearless Girl, through the addition of more stones ...."

UPDATE:  Picasso suing to remove that damn girl sculpture by Degas.