Art in the Courtroom

Art in the Courtroom

Art in the Courtroom

Art in the Courtroom


Providing legal analysis and touching upon social history and art history themes, this work offers an objective review of five art trials. Spanning the last 20 years, specific areas of law are examined with each trial: First and Fifth Amendments, copyright law, contract law, valuation of art, and misrepresentation. Art, outside of the legal vacuum, has been embroiled in a battle initiated by social conservatives to promote decency. Three trials involving this struggle and the National Endowment of the Arts are analyzed. The valuation of art is examined in the context of Andy Warhol's estate and copyright law is considered because of the appropriation of contemporary images by Jeff Koons. Although each trial is reviewed distinctly, all are interwoven to present major issues relating to contemporary art.


Is It Art? Visual Excess? Or a Cupcake?

In 1988, New York's Sonnabend Gallery held an exhibit of the latest series of sculpture created by Jeff Koons. the series, named Banality, included twenty pieces made from various materials, including carved wood, porcelain and mirrors. Each piece was a collage of various images that the sculptor had come across. One of the large carved wood pieces, called String of Puppies, depicted a man and a woman with daisies in their hair sitting on a bench and holding eight puppies. the sculpture had a haunting quality because of the vacant expressions of the couple and its cartoonesque elements such as blue-painted puppies.

Koons always looked for objects or images that he might incorporate into his future work. One of the many items he found was a note card in a souvenir shop. Koons felt that the image on this card captured aspects of contemporary culture, so he purchased it and placed it in one of his notebooks of source material for his work. the note card included a photograph named Puppies, created by Art Rogers. It depicted a couple sitting on a bench, proudly holding a litter of eight champion German shepherd Puppies. Rogers has claimed that this photograph was one of the best images that he had ever created.

Koons had obviously used the Puppies note card as the basis for his sculpture. the sculpture depicted the same couple sitting on a bench . . .

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