Art + law is distinct from the practice of art law. While the latter occupies the field of art business, the former considers how art and law might be mutual endeavors, one informing the other. This class focuses on the former, considering how artists have provoked, represented, wielded, refined, tested, expanded, and unconventionally complied with private and public law. This intersection of art and law invites questions: Who or what authorizes or bestows the label of art? What is the basis for this authority and how are artworks influenced by, and/or function in opposition to, such authorizing forces? Can and how has the law been represented in art? How have artworks and artists disrupted legal regimes through civil disobedience (the breaking of a law); and how has dissent been expressed through uncivil obedience (the following of a law in a hyperbolic, literalistic, and unanticipated manner)? Although primarily focusing on artwork and cases within the United States, the topics considered in this class might be applied to any number of geographic and cultural arenas. This course is not a history of art law, and neither is it a history of art symbolically looking at law; rather, this class examines the mutually influencing spheres wherein art activates, images, provokes, interacts with, and even interferes with the law.
The course will cover a range of artists/artworks including Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space, 1926 (Brancusi v. United States, 1928); Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, 1981-89; Jeff Koons’s String of Puppies (Rogers v. Koons 1992); Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian, 2019 (and David Datuna’s Hungry Artist, 2019), and many more.