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See Art, Think Art Law (TM)

If we were to institute annual art law awards, whom would we honor? In 2014, the inaugural award for the artist who has influenced the legal profession most would probably go to Jeff Koons (apologies to the artist currently known as Mr. Prince), whose artistic path has certainly been shaped by his legal altercations.

Koons would be our first choice not only because his retrospective at the soon to be the OLD Whitney Museum of Modern Art and his public art installations in Rockefeller Center are all the rage, not simply because of the upcoming shows in Paris or his collaboration with H&M but mostly because his work has left an indelible mark on the fair use and copyright debate.

“See Art, Think Art Law”(™) Project celebrates artists not only for their messages, aesthetics, philosophy or craftsmanship but also for the interaction their work stimulates between law and the arts. Whether there will be Art Law awards or not, Center for Art Law invites you to look at art through a legal history prism (but not only, of course).

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Image: Portion of Jeff Koons, oil on canvas “Tulips”(1995–98).

Jeff Koons 

Party to litigation (selection):

  • Blanch v. Koons, 467 F. 3d 244 (2nd Cir. 2006)
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind v. Koons, 4 Misc. 3d 447 (N.Y.S. 2004)
  • Rogers v. Koons, 960 F. 2d 301 (2nd Cir.1992)
  • United Feature Syndicate, Inc. v. Koons, 817 F. Supp. 370 (S.D.N.Y 1993)
  • Campbell v. Koons, 1993 WL 97381 (S.D.N.Y. 1993)

Citations (selection):

  • Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 US 569 (US, 1994)
  • Cariou v. Prince, 784 F. Supp. 2d 337 (S.D.N.Y. 2011)
  • Viacom Intern. Inc. v. YouTube, Inc.,540 F. Supp. 2d 461 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)
  • Hessel v. Christie’s Inc.,399 F. Supp. 2d 506 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)
  • SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, Inc.,117 F. Supp. 2d 301 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)
  • Walker v. Forbes, Inc., 28 F. 3d 409 – Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, 1994
  • Schrock v. Learning Curve Intern., Inc., 531 F. Supp. 2d 990 (N.D.Il. 2008)


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We began our “See Art, Think Art Law” Project with the small excursion to look at the recent works of Richard Serra on display at the Gagosian Gallery in Spring 2014.


Richard SerraScreen Shot 2014-07-11 at 10.43.44 AM

Legislation (associated w/):

  • The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), 17 U.S.C. § 106A.

Party in litigation (selection):

  • Serra v. US General Services Admin., 847 F. 2d 1045 (2nd Cir. 1988)
  • Johnson v. Serra, 521 F. 2d 1289 (8th Cir. 1975)

Citations (selection):

  • Phillips v. Pembroke Real Estate, Inc., 459 F. 3d 128 (1st Cir. 2006)

Suggested reading:


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Alice Aycock Recently on display on Park Avenue.

Alice Aycock’s work “Star Sifter” on display at Terminal One, JFK International Airport, in New York was threatened with permanent removal when the terminal management company announced its plans to renovate the space and not to reinstall the art works. Ultimately the parties agreed for the work to be moved to another section of the Terminal. Aycock’s “Paper Chase” installation on Park Avenue was breathtaking but temporary.

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