Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Good news for EU and Korean artists, sculptors ... and DJs

Not every reader of this weblog will be intimately familiar with the European Union's [Long title warning: name starts here ...] Council Decision of 16 September 2010 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and provisional application of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Korea, of the other part [... and ends here], which was published on the EU's Official Journal website last week. However, artists might be interested to know that -- as between the EU and South Korea at any rate -- their interests are being taken to heart. According to the Protocol on cultural cooperation which is tacked on to the vast main document, Article 4 states as follows:
"Artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners
1. The Parties shall endeavour to facilitate, in conformity with their respective legislation, the entry into and temporary stay in their territories of artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners from the other Party, who cannot avail them selves of commitments undertaken on the basis of Chapter Seven (Trade in Services, Establishment and Electronic Commerce) and who are either:

(a) artists, actors, technicians and other cultural professionals and practitioners from the other Party involved in the shooting of cinematographic films or television programmes; or

(b) artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners such as visual, plastic and performing artists and instructors, composers, authors, providers of entertainment services and other similar professionals and practitioners from the other Party involved in cultural activities such as, for example, the recording of music or contributing an active part to cultural events such as literary fairs and festivals, among other activities, provided that they are not engaged in selling their services to the general public or in supplying their services themselves, do not on their own behalf receive any remuneration from a source located within the Party where they are staying temporarily, and are not engaged in the supply of a service in the framework of a contract concluded between a legal person who has no commercial presence in the Party where the artist or other cultural professional or practitioner is staying temporarily and a consumer in that Party.

2. The entry into, and temporary stay in territories of the Parties under paragraph 1, when allowed, shall be for a period of up to 90 days in any 12 month period.

3. The Parties shall endeavour to facilitate, in conformity with their respective legislation, the training of, and increased contacts between, artists and other cultural professionals and
practitioners such as:

(a) theatrical producers, singer groups, band and orchestra members;

(b) authors, composers, sculptors, entertainers and other indi­vidual artists;

(c) artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners participating in the direct supply of circus, amusement park and similar attraction services; and

(d) artists and other cultural professionals and practitioners participating in the direct supply of ballroom or discotheque services and dance instructors".
So now you know.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Pope sculpture "looks like Mussolini"

Rome is apparently in uproar over the unveiling last week of a sculpture intended to portray the late Pope John Paul II, but which its detractors say looks like wartime dictator Benito Mussolini.  The work, which occupies a position in the piazza outside Rome's main railway station, has been described as "modern and evocative" by the city's mayor -- but others are not so sure.  Says Antonio Stampete, a Rome city councillor,
"Installing this outside Rome's most important travel hub, where thousands of Italian and foreign tourists arrive every day, is embarrassing".
The Vatican has also criticised the work, even though the Pontifical Commission for Culture is reported to have approved the original sketches.

It has not been suggested that there is any legal basis on which removal of the sculpture could be compelled. Indeed, it is the reputation of the sculptor, Oliviero Rainaldi, which the laws relating to moral rights seek to protect. There's not much good news for Mussolini either: it seems that his own well-publicised miracle -- making the Italian trains run on time -- is only a myth.

Source: "Pope John Paul II sculpture criticised for resembling Benito Mussolini" by Nick Squires, Telegraph, 20 May 2011

Monday, 16 May 2011

Ay Ay - time for an update?

With the members of the A&A team in various national and international manoeuvres, the “latest” in art and law has become the “most recent”. Therefore, it seemed like a good time for an update of all such recent news.

Ai Weiwei still missing

Firstly, by way of update, following on from my report here, there has still been no sign of Ai Weiwei since he was detained at Beijing airport at the beginning of April.

Still little information is available. All the police have said is that he is under investigation for economic crimes. However, his family have not been notified of his detention, as is said to be usual.

It is worth remembering that such blatant violations of basic human rights continue to take place around the world.

Meanwhile in the Forbidden City

A man has been arrested after thieves managed to break in and steal several pieces of art from a temporary display in a museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing. A couple of pieces were subsequently recovered nearby, however it does not appear that the arrest has lead to the recovery of the rest of the works.

While the Forbidden City will now no doubt bulk up their security, because the works in question were on loan from the Liang Yi Museum in Hong Kong, it remains to be seen is whether the incident nevertheless has an effect on art works being loaned to China by foreign galleries and museums.

New Nazi art recovery website

Another tool to assist in the recovery of cultural property that was stolen, looted, seized, forcibly sold, or otherwise lost during the Nazi-era has been launched.

In addition to the tools discussed here, here and here, further to the international collaborative efforts of the UK National Archives, the French Diplomatic Artive Center, the Central State Archive of Ukraine, the Belgian State Archives, the Commission on Looted Art in Europe, the Claims Conference, the US Holocaust Museaum, the US National Archives, the German Historical Museum and the Federal German Archives, records of artworks are now available through the International Research Portal.

The collaboration is was established to fulfill the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the 2000 Vilnius Forum Declaration and the 2009 Terezin Declaration, in particular on the importance of making all records of Nazi-confiscated art publicly accessible.

Let us hope that the portal improves the location and return of looted and/or lost art to its rightful owners.

A success story

Last month a holocaust survivor had a Gustav Klimt painting, that had belonged to his grandmother before she was arrested by the Nazis and deported to a concentration camp during the Second World Warm, returned.

Back in 1941, Georges Jorisch's grandmother had a collection of Klimt paintings which were seized after her arrest. Jorisch tracked one of those paintings, Litzlberg am Attersee, to the Salzburg Museum which had acquired it in 1944.

In quite a rare move, of which there are unfortunately not enough, the museum accepted that the painting should be returned to its rightful owner.

Origami copyright case

An anonymous reader has helpfully alerted me to an interesting complaint filed, at the end of April 2011 in the US District Court of the Northern District of California by a group of six artists seeking damages for copyright infringement from another artist.

The plaintiffs claim to be experts in origami, and it is the copyright in their origami models that they allege has been infringed. Specifically, it is claimed that the so-called “crease patterns” created and published by the plaintiffs for their some of their origami models have been copied. As the complaint explains: “The lines of a crease pattern represent the folds needed to create a three-dimensional origami model from a sheet of paper, but the intricacy of these geometric diagrams gives crease patterns their own aesthetic appeal. Crease patterns thus lend themselves to derivative works, such as colorized versions.”

The defendant is Sarah Morris, an internationally known painter and film maker, who debuted a set of 37 paintings entitled the “Origami series” in 2007, which has now been exhibited around the world. A plaintiffs allege that a large number of the Origami series painting are based on their origami designs and Morris has merely transferred the crease patterns to canvas and applied paint to the spaces between the lines.

Comparisons of the crease patterns and Morris' works are exhibited to the complaint, and include the following:

More examples can be found

Any thoughts on the merits of the claim? Do the origami artists have a good claim?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Governmental free speech puts paid to Rosie

In a curious dispute on the US side of the Atlantic, a federal judge has refused an application to order the tiny North-East state of Maine to return a mural to the state Labor Department office from which it was controversially removed in March. Judge John Woodcock held that the State Governor, Paul LePage, was exercising a constitutional right to "government speech" (the right of government to say what it wishes, regardless of the viewpoint expressed) in ordering removal of a 36-foot-long mural which it commissioned, approved, paid for and owned.

LePage ordered the removal of the mural, saying it presented a one-sided view of history. Critics of his action sued, contending that the governor violated their First Amendment right of access to the artwork. Said the judge:
"It is not the business of the federal court to decide what messages the elected leaders of the state of Maine should send about the policies of the state, to tell a prior administration that its own artwork is too slanted to continue to hang on state office walls, to tell the current administration that it must not remove or replace a prior administration's artwork, or to tell a future administration which piece of state art, the new or the old, must stay or go".
The ruling denied a motion for a temporary restraining order to put the mural back up where it had been displayed. Meanwhile, a larger lawsuit claiming First Amendment violations continues. The action has been brought by a group of plaintiffs which includes a union member as well as artists who object to being denied access to the work.

The mural was installed in 2008 and depicts a range of labour-related scenes which include a 1986 paper mill strike, the fictional World War II icon Rosie the Riveter (right) at work in a shipyard and New Deal-era U.S. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first female Cabinet member, whose parents were from Maine.

Source: "Federal judge nixes request to replace Maine mural", BusinessWeek.