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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SERRA’S THREAT TO BROAD COLLECTION



Serra’s ‘threat’ to Broad collection
Curator argues artists’ law can place “moral rights” above historical accuracy

By Laura Gilbert. News, Issue 242, January 2012
Published online: 10 January 2013

An independent curator has claimed that Richard Serra threatened to withdraw one of his works from the collection of Eli and Edythe Broad if he was not allowed to rework the drawing. Magdalena Dabrowski, speaking to an audience of lawyers and art appraisers in New Yorkrecently, argued that historical accuracy is being compromised as a result of the Visual Artists Rights Act (Vara), which gives artists “moral rights” to disclaim their works and prevent their alteration by third parties.

Dabrowski organised an exhibition of drawings by Serra at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011. The artist reworked some of his earlier pieces for the show, which closed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in January 2012. 

Some of the drawings that Serra reworked had been damaged or destroyed, and the artist recreated them specifically for the show. The Met hinted at this by labelling the works with two dates: that of the original and that of the reworked version. Serra says it is not important whether audiences know which version they are seeing. “There’s no aura of originality because it’s an anonymous surface. It’s a difference without a value. I try to keep surfaces as anonymous as possible,” he tells The Art Newspaper. He says he owned the drawings he recreated, and destroyed the works they replaced.


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