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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2020-21


ARTH 83.05 Advanced Seminar: Art and the Law

This Advanced Seminar addresses legal issues that pertain to the sale, acquisition, display, ownership, and destruction of works of art. The topic is framed around two related questions: How does the special status of art, as a privileged sphere of creative expression, grant it different treatment under the law? What are some of the exemptions, protections, or obligations that are accorded to art that are not extended to other forms of personal property? The first part of the course will focus on case studies in which legal questions are entangled with ethical and political concerns: illicit international trade in looted art, repatriation claims, high-profile forgeries, and new guidelines for authentication. The second half looks at the legal framework that governs artists’ rights (including resale royalties, copyright, and freedom of expression) as well as the rules that structure transactions in the primary (e.g. artist-dealer contracts and handshake agreements) and secondary art markets. We will also analyze problems related to the representation of artists’ estates, the acquisition and de-accessioning of artworks by museums, and the tax codes associated with charitable contributions of works of art. Finally, the class considers how artists strategically make use of the unique affordances of the law and test what it is that artworks can do outside the circumscribed domain of the art world.

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.