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Art Law: Selected Problems - Seminar

[Course number 200020013-LAW-9855-A-31]

Prof. Martin
Spring 2001

Tuesdays, 4:10 - 6:10 pm

Austin 203

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Course Description

This seminar will selectively explore how the law shapes and constrains the visual arts. The course will examine a broad spectrum of problems involving the interaction of art and the law, both historically and in contemporary society. Emphasis will be given to issues such as moral right and droit de suite statutes; legal issues that arise in the art market: stolen art, forgeries, authentication, agreements for the transfer and commission of works of art; valuation problems related to authentication and artist estates and the aspects of purchase, sale, and charitable contribution of works of art; repatriation of cultural objects and the illicit international trade in art; and ethics and legality in museum policies. The class will frequently consider contemporary art controversies as a means of examining these broader issues.

Requirements for all students include: regular attendance, active participation in discussion, preparation of weekly discussion questions (not answers), a newspaper editorial on an assigned topic to be debated in class [examples here],  and a research paper. The seminar requirement can be met with a paper of twenty to twenty-five pages but students are encouraged to write a more substantial paper for an additional credit that can be used to satisfy the School's Written Work Requirement.

In researching for and writing your paper, be ambitious. In principle, you should try to write something worth publishing. Papers written in satisfaction of the Written Work Requirement should be written for a professional journal like the Harvard Law Review, the Copyright Law Symposium, or the International Journal of Cultural Property.

As an alternative to a research paper, students may prepare two shorter papers. One should be a book review from a list of titles selected by the instructor. The second could be a report on one of the classic cases in the history of art law or an investigative report prepared from interviewing people in the art world about contemporary problems. This report should be written but might also be presented orally to the class. Examples of such reports could include the following:

Other topics may be selected with permission of the instructor.

Important Sources

There is no text for this course. The course web page (http://courses.law.harvard.edu/spring_01/art_martin/) will contain the list of readings, most of which will be available on the web. Where documents are not available on the web, I will distribute them in class.

Since the course covers a wide range of doctrinal areas, there are other information sources that you should know. A fairly substantial introduction to these can be found in Sources for Researching Art Law prepared by Deanna Barmakian, Reference Librarian, February 2000, which is on the course web site. I want to highlight a few of these:

Arts Journal (www.artsjournal.com/) is a weekday online digest of some of the best arts and cultural journalism in the English-speaking world. Each day Arts Journal combs through more than 200 English-language newspapers, magazines and publications featuring writing about arts and culture. Direct links to the most interesting or important stories are posted every weekday beginning at 5 AM PDT on the Arts Journal news pages. Stories from sites that charge for access are excluded as are sites which require visitors to register, with the exception of the New York Times.

Arts Journal's editor is Douglas McLennan, formerly an arts columnist and arts reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Weekly.

Arts Journal also publishes the weekly Arts Beat column every Monday morning, a weekly annotated summary of what is being written about in the arts the previous week. Arts Beat is available free by e-mail subscription delivered to you every weekend. To subscribe, send an e-mail to Artsbeat@ArtsJournal.com and write "Subscribe" in the Subject line.


Unless otherwise noted, all material is Copyright İ 2001 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.  All rights reserved.
Last updated on 02/08/01 by Terry Martin.