It is a well-established fact that, in general, copyright lasts for seventy years after the death of the author [17 USC 302]. However, the practices regarding fabrication and conservation of a work, after the death of the author, are not yet established at all.
This year, a symposium will be held in New York and Berlin to address fabrication and conservation techniques used on the work of Donald Judd (1928-1994). As reported by the Art Newspaper, “[These conferences] will be about asking if there are more authentic or less authentic ways to deal with Judd.”
“Things can go wrong when the artist is not there to defend or explain himself,” says Peter Ballantine, who recently held a talk titled “Donald Judd: Delegated Fabrication: History, Practices, Issues and Implications.” Things can especially go wrong when curatorial or exhibition-related decisions need to be made.
The Judd Foundation explains that Judd advocated “for the permanent installation of works by artists in carefully selected environments.” So it would seem difficult to re-install his works in new locations. Nonetheless, the Tate Modern hosted a retrospective of his works in 2004. Ballantine was disappointed by some of the choices that the Tate made, and this symposium was spurred in part by that exhibition.
How can an artist’s works be kept alive after the artist’s death? Does an artist need to install the work himself for it to be authentic? And who determines what is authentic?! Hopefully the symposium will go some way towards establishing best practices, at least regarding the work of one artist.
Read the article at the Art Newspaper