As a curator specializing in contemporary art from the 1960s to the present, with a particular interest in performative works by such artists as James Lee Byars and Yves Klein, I was alarmed by a recent court ruling on the issue of who owns the copyright to the photographic documentation of artistic performances. A German court ruled in favor of Eva Beuys, the widow of the artist Joseph Beuys, who claims that she controls the rights to photographs taken during Beuys’s 1964 performance Das Schweigen von Marcel Duchamp ist überbewertet (The silence of Marcel Duchamp is Overrated). The photographs were taken by the late Manfred Tischer who was granted permission to document the performance by Beuys at the time, but apparently was not authorized explicitly to publish or exhibit them. When the German museum Schloss Moyland, which houses an extensive collection and archive of Beuys’s works, decided to exhibit 19 of Tischer’s photographs, the artist’s widow sued the museum of copyright infringement with the help of the German copyright society, VG Bild-Kunst. Continue reading “Who owns the rights to documentations of performance art?” »
It was imperative to our founder, Duncan Phillips, to engage with living artists. He felt that “artists speak not only for themselves but for those of us who are intensely interested in other ways of seeing than our own.” Maintaining our connections to living artists has become an intrinsic part of the museum’s philosophy and mission.
It’s in this vein that we asked the artist Peter Doig to, in addition to delivering the spring 2011 Duncan Phillips Lecture, create a painting or a series that responds to a work in the permanent collection.
Peter chose a work by the French painter Georges Braque, Bird (1956) – a painting whose image of a dove has become an iconic symbol for this institution – as his inspiration for the Corbeaux series.
It was particularly satisfying to watch Peter’s reaction to the Braque painting for the first time in person. While working with our staff in the gallery on his installation he kept returning to the Braque work, fixated on the figure of the dove suspended in air. It was evident Peter hoped to capture this feeling of stilled movement in his raven series, and the experience of the works in conversation is certainly kinetic: you feel as if Doig’s ravens take flight with Braque’s dove, transcending the gallery walls to transport you to a place in nature.
To learn more about Peter Doig’s work, visit the Michael Werner Gallery and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. For behind-the-scenes photos of his installation in progress at the Phillips, check out this Flickr set.