The July 2023 issue of Art Antiquity and Law has now been published and hard copies will be winging their way to subscribers this week. Online subscribers will be able to access it in the usual way.
This issue contains a thought-provoking article by law professors Peter Cumper and Tom Lewis on the vexed issue of ‘statue wars’ and whether or not memorials to controversial historical figures, such as the seventeenth-century slave trader (and philanthropist) Edward Colston should be removed and/or contextualised. The authors suggest that human rights law may provide a new way of viewing these disputes, focusing particularly on Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private and family life and right to freedom of expression – both of which may be subject to restrictions which are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”). Statues, the authors contend, are a form of expression (and thus protected by Article 10), but they also have the potential to interfere with the Article 8 rights of those who pass them or live in their vicinity. For more on statues and freedom of expression, see Tom Lewis’ recent blog piece on climate change and artwork-based activism.
Disputes as to attribution and authenticity in relation to artworks continue to come before the courts of England and Wales (in recent months see High Court Dismisses Claim over Sale of Chardin Painting and Important High Court Decision on Authenticity and Dealers’ Responsibilities). In ‘The Fine Art of Acquiring Authentic Artworks’ Gemma Broughall, Natalia Faekova, Ilana Granditer and Laurence Lieberman of Taylor Wessing LLP examine the various investigative steps that can be taken pre-purchase to minimise the chances of buying a fake or forgery, giving guidance to buyers as to how to protect themselves upon acquisition, with a discussion of possible routes to resolution for buyers who believe their purchase may not be authentic.
Enlightenment philosophies heavily influenced racialised land policies against Indigenous populations. These philosophies, which helped establish the “binary spheres of property” of the western world, have been utilised in the context of Indigenous communities and colonisation, as well as manifested into international cultural heritage laws since the 1970s. Pepita Béchet’s article discusses how this is reflected in western responses to Indigenous claims of cultural appropriation, comparing the staged photographs of Indigenous people by Edward Sheriff Curtis and the sale of totem poles in Canadian tourist shops. Béchet goes on to examine the argument of the ‘public domain’ to justify cultural appropriation, suggesting that in order for groups who have historically been “subordinated to colonial violence” to obtain cultural – and legal – agency, a rethink of culture, property and ownership is necessary.
Cyprus has suffered greatly from looting of its cultural and religious artworks and some of its attempts to recover this heritage are well known (see, for example, the claim brought by the Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church against the US dealer Peg Goldberg). A recent success story concerns the return of the Holy Doors of St Anastasios from a Japanese university, the Kanazawa College of Art. In this issue of the journal Andreas Giorgallis (Ph.D. Candidate at CREATe Centre, School of Law, University of Glasgow) outlines the complex history, spanning more than three decades, of the identification of the Doors and their eventual return to Cyprus.
Finally, this issue includes two book reviews: Stephanie Drawdy examines the second edition of Martin Wilson’s Art Law and the Business of Art and Rod Thomas looks at The Art of Copying Art by Penelope Jackson.
I am also very pleased to announce the launch, in association with Hart Publishing, of the Art Law Library. The series is the continuation of IAL’s book publishing branch and, as such, will continue to publish books on all aspects of the law relating to art in its widest sense, including antiquities, museums, intangible cultural heritage, archives, intellectual property and human remains. I am happy to act as Series Editor for the Art Law Library and will be working closely with the team at Hart, including publisher Roberta Bassi.
The first book in the series will be an in-depth analysis of the world’s longest-running cultural dispute, The Parthenon Marbles: Heritage, Law, Politics written by the Director of IAL, Alexander Herman (publication date: 21 September 2023).
Other books in the series will include Digitising Cultural Heritage by Pinar Oruç and Copyright and Conceptual Art by Shane Burke, two authors we have enjoyed working with in the past on IAL programmes.
We believe that the titles in the Art Law Library will be invaluable to those working and studying in the fields of law, museums, galleries, libraries, archaeology and law enforcement. Do contact me if you have an interest in submitting a proposal for a new title in the series.