Gloria Gatti in the Giornale dell’Arte: Destroying Wall Drawings #570 is an “incentive” to harm the tax authorities and commit a crime

While in Ravenna on the story Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings #570 various gossip continues, seasoned with repeated requests for the resignation of the curator of the Mar Giorgia Salerno (the level is such that the poor are falling and this newspaper has no intention of following traces of more or less anonymous letters to newspapers), the authoritative IL GIORNALE DELL’ARTE yesterday, May 12, dedicated a long detailed article by Gloria Gatti with the title “Heirs and Whims for Sol LeWitt in Ravenna” with this subtitle “The daughter requests the destruction of the “Wall Drawing” made in 1988 and now on display. But the law prevents it, and so does the new Criminal Code.”

Who is Gloria Gatti? She is a renowned lawyer† He regularly assists multinational and Italian companies, as well as prestigious cultural institutions, auction houses and private collectors in the field of art law and cultural heritage. As a freelance journalist, he collaborates with numerous publications and scientific journals devoted to the sector.

What does Gloria Gatti write? “Just as Giorgio Vasari devoted himself to the caprices and anecdotes of artists, so today one could collect in a book the whims and anecdotes of widows, children, grandchildren or, more generally, of the heirs and archives of artists. And the bizarre request for the destruction of the «Wall drawing #570», made on the Sea of ​​Ravenna by Sofia LeWitt, daughter of the late artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), would certainly deserve a long chapter, boldly displayed before the public from April 13 in the art museum of the city of Ravenna, after more than thirty years of storage. A request that almost resembles an “incitement” to harm the tax authorities and to commit the crime that the new art envisions. 518 duodecies of the Criminal Code and that anyone who «makes his own or someone else’s cultural or landscape property wholly or partly unusable, destroys, distributes, destroys or renders useless, with a prison sentence of two to five years and with a fine ranging from € 2,500 to $15,000″, in the name of his nonexistent moral right.”

“The Mural #570, in the 1990s, was regularly included in the inventory of the artistic assets owned by the Municipal Art Gallery of Ravenna, first and then by the Municipality, becoming a cultural asset protected by art. 30 of the Code of Cultural Heritage and wholly and exclusively owned by the Institution, on the basis of civil law, as a result of usucapione pursuant to art. 1161 of the Civil Code, possessed without interruption for 34 years, peacefully, uninterrupted and undisputed. The work was undoubtedly included in the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings catalog Raisonné in 2015, published by Béatrice Gros (Artifex Press), with the collaboration of LeWitt Estate. There is no question that the creator can destroy the work he has created while it is still in his domain, in which case the destruction is comparable to the right of unpublished. However, when the “Corpus Mechanicum” has been transferred to third parties, the legal system does not justify such compression of the property right and does not allow the author to modify the single work without the permission of the owner. – specifies Gloria Gatti – The art. 2582 of the Civil Code and Articles 142 143 Lda (Law on Copyright, Ed) also acknowledges to the author what is misdefined “right to repentance”, which is rather the right to withdraw the work from the market if there is “serious moral reasons”. The right of withdrawal is a very personal right, ie it ceases to exist upon the death of the artist and as such is not transferable to the heirs and entitled parties mentioned in art.23 of the Lda and arises when the author transfers it to third parties patrimonial right of use to the ‘Opera. However, the withdrawal request for works in one copy in the possession of individuals, libraries and museums “who do not possess the work in order to sell or reproduce it for a profit” cannot be accepted, even if it has been entered by the author in the life is formulated. †

“A distinction must be made for temporary installations, which on the basis of a contract exist only for a limited period agreed in writing and with the operation of an agreement between the parties. However, no trace of such a contract can be found in the archives of the Ravenna Museum. The “misleading” is probably due to the fact that the American conceptual artist regarded the idea as art and not its expressive form and believed that the “ownership” of the work did not always coincide with that of the material object, but only comes derived from having some documents, the certificate of authenticity and the diagram, rectius un sketch, which contained partial instructions on how to make or install it. – continues Gatti – In practice, therefore, the author has only granted the right to reproduce the sketch, the copyright of which has belonged to the LeWitt Estate since his death, and which now even requires the owners to obtain his permission and use the oversight of the archive. installation. Fortunately, these clumsy attempts at contracting art, which seek to perpetuate moral rights and create monopolies, have only market value, but have found no recognition in the Copyright Act, which has continued to view art as not the idea, but the expressive form. is to deny that a certificate of authenticity can be considered a work and therefore protected. In fact, an American collector, who negligently sued his gallery owner for the loss of his documents (certificate and diagram) belonging to the «Wall Drawing #448», was refused insurance reimbursement in 2012 (judgment Steinkampv. Hoffman, no. 0651770 , 2012 WL 1941149, NYSup.Ct. May 22, 2012). However, the «Wall drawing #570» of the Sea of ​​Ravenna is not a mural destined to circulate thanks to the transfer of documents. It is an original work and has been made on panels, presumably on purpose to be taken apart and rearranged in the original version, in case of reorganization of the museum spaces. Thus, the «Wall drawing #570», made by Sol LeWitt and his assistants, without contract, is in fact an original, perhaps collective work of art, protected by copyright and, also culturally, also protected from the whims of the heirs, such as “a artifact”, as Vittorio Sgarbi rightly stated. †

For the record, unique is the fact that the young Councilor for Culture of Ravenna Fabio Sbaraglia did not even mention this authoritative intervention in defense of the work of the curator of the Sea, Giorgia Salerno, who seems impeccable, to instead gossip to chase related letters more or less anonymously.

Sol LeWitt

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