The legalities of authenticity and contemporary art

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The legalities of authenticity and contemporary art are complex and made up of a combination of legislation and case histories. The introduction of new art forms such as multiple copies, appropriation, interventions and found art have introduced tensions, complexities and contradictions that impact on both the process of authentication and the moral rights of the artists. These frequently result in lengthy and costly litigation that the courts often struggle to resolve. The high price of much contemporary art has driven many cases into the courts at the point of sale as authenticity is challenged and the rights of the artist exerted. The moral right of the artist to disown work has an impact on the roles and responsibilities of the expert eyes, authentication boards, dealers, auction houses, collectors, galleries, curators and conservators. Care must be taken when proffering an opinion, advice or guidance or implementing preventive or interventive conservation procedures to ensure that the rights of the artist will not be infringed and the authenticity of the piece compromised. The establishment of a clear legal framework is like a chimera, something that we hope for but which is almost impossible to achieve as it twists and turns in a constant transition through the ever-changing landscape of contemporary art.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAuthenticity in Transition
EditorsErma Hermens, Frances Robertson
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherArchetype Publications
Number of pages205
ISBN (Print)9781909492363
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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