Deep Thought Thursday

Is it still art if the artist’s vision is obliterated?

And what happens when municipal laws interfere with the artwork that was commissioned?

Read what happened with artist Sharon Louden’s work at the Yahoo! Sunnyvale, CA offices in this Wall Street Journal article. Then read Edward Winkelman’s take on this (read the comments, too).

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2 comments to Deep Thought Thursday

  • I have a very pragmatic view on this case: Sharon Louden created a “piece of art” – she was paid for it and does no longer “own” the work. But part of that art work was a vision that had a strong relation to the environment. Thus artwork and environment could not be separated. Now when you changed the environment – as it happened in this case – and part of the vision was turned into a ridicule and additionally the artwork itself damaged I – as the artist – would not recognize and confirm it any longer as my work. This means – if I were the artist – I would demand the leftovers to be ripped out, my name “removed” and started fresh again with another contractor with the same project or a similar one as I – as the artist – still own the copyright on this work – right?

  • As artists, it is very important to remember that our work is not the same a new paint job – something that can be simply changed when fashion dictates. I think Louden is perfectly justified in her response to the mutilation of her work and shouldn’t apologise for taking legal action against Yahoo! Artists in Canada, for example, have “moral rights” over their work – even after the work is sold (and these are completely separate from copyright). Moral rights include the right to the integrity of the original work. Integrity of the original work is seen to have been breached if the work is distorted, modified or damaged in a way (and here’s the kicker) that prejudices or dishonours the reputation of the artist. An oft cited example of this from Canadian Law is artist Michael Snow’s objection to the Eaton’s Centre “decorating” his sculpture “Flight Stop” with Christmas ribbons: http://www.caslon.com.au/mrcasesnote4.htm The judge in this case ruled in favour of the artist and Eaton’s had to remove the Christmas decorations. I hope Ms Louden is so lucky.