The Art Law Podcast: conversations at the intersection of art and law

In our introductory episode we introduce ourselves and discuss the podcast’s theme of exploring topics where art intersects with and interferes with the law, and vice versa.  We preview upcoming episodes, including our first full length episode on when and how museums may sell art from their collections (known as deaccessioning) and the public outcry these decisions have.  Other episodes will explore artist moral rights and street art, censorship of art, scientific analysis of art and authenticity scandals, appropriation art and the limits of copyright, art and activism, the rise of art financing, art auctions and Nazi looted art and cultural property disputes.  Episodes will feature discussions of current events and guest commentary.

Trailer Transcription

Steven Schindler:  Hi, I’m Steve Schindler.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  I’m Katie Wilson-Milne.

Steven Schindler:  Welcome to Art Law, a new monthly podcast exploring the places where art intersects with and interferes with the law.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  And vice-versa.  The Art Law is sponsored by the law firm Schindler Cohen & Hochman LLP.  Schindler Cohen & Hochman is a premier litigation and art law boutique located in New York City.  SCH handles a wide range of sophisticated high stakes litigation matters and counsels a broad range of art market participants on legal issues in the art world.

Steven Schindler:  So, full disclosure here, Katie and I are both art lawyers and we both practice at the Schindler Cohen & Hochman firm.  So, thank you, Schindler Cohen & Hochman.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  Steve, to digress for a moment, what does it mean to be an art lawyer?  I feel like we both get this question at cocktail parties.

Steven Schindler:  Well, I think Katie that you attend cocktail parties more frequently than I do, but I do get the question as well, so let’s clear it up for the audience right at the start.  Art law is not a type of law so much as it is a generalist practice within a particular industry, in our case, the commercial art market.  Art law can involve a board range of legal issues such as contracts, financing, copyright, fraud, theft, tax, and others, but all in some way involving the buying, selling, monetizing, or the creation of art.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  That makes sense, Steve.  Thanks.  With that background on us, let’s talk about the podcast itself which will have a much boarder scope.

Steven Schindler:  So, in our first episode, we will consider the question: Can museums sell your art?  What are the ethics of museum selling donated art, or to use the art term, deaccessioning?  If you are thinking of donating your priceless collection to the MoMA or even the National Museum Mustard, which I’ve learned was located in Wisconsin, you may want to listen in on this one.  And Katie, what are the other areas that are up for discussion in the coming months?  Can we give the audience a sneak preview of our new podcast?

Katie Wilson-Milne:  Absolutely.  We are going to look in on the 5 Pointz case, which is awaiting a decision in Federal Court in Brooklyn.

Steven Schindler:  This is the graffiti case, tell me more about it.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  That’s right Steve.  This is the case involving a number of street artists who were invited to create art on a decaying industrial building in Long Island City, Queens.  This was the building that was right across from MoMA PS1.  When the landlord decided to tear down that building to build condos, the artists sued to prevent the destruction of their mural graffiti works under a section of the copyright law called the Visual Artist Right Acts or the VARA.  So, in the context of this case, we are going to talk about an artist’s, “Moral Rights” or the right to control what happens to your physical art after it leaves artist control, and explore whether it is possible to make sense of this very European-style right in the context of U.S. decisions.

Steven Schindler:  Well, let’s talk about the physical art for a moment.  What about fakes and forgeries?  That seems to be a pretty hot topic these days.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  It is Steve.  We planned to do a deep dive into the history of scientific analysis of art, and how it is used today in making legal claims to ownership and authenticity.

Steven Schindler:  I should add that we will be inviting leading experts from the field onto the podcast.  So, listeners won’t just have to listen to us talk for 45 minutes, although that could be entertaining.  What else do we have coming up?

Katie Wilson-Milne:  Well, we are going to look at “Appropriation Art” or art that appropriates the work of other artists as material for a new work.  We will examine the viability of our copyright laws in the face of an evolving body of law at least in New York, favoring and permitting “Transformative uses of copyrighted art”.  And of course this will mean talking about the famous artist Richard Prince, who continues to infuriate those who value copyright protections and who has, probably more than any other living artist, pushed out the boundaries of what uses of other people’s creative materials are considered fair.  And Steve, what are you most excited about?

Steven Schindler:  Censorship, Katie.  A topic that until recently I thought was a historical footnote.  Last seen is an ugly manifestation of the cultural wars of the 1990s, but now we have a growing call for censorship on the right as well as on the left where various protest movements have called for exhibitions to be closed, pictures to be pulled down, and most disturbingly in a few instances demanded that offensive art be destroyed.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  That’s a very hot topic Steve, especially in light of the controversies at the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums this past year.

Steven Schindler:  Well, I’m also excited, if you want to know, about having a chance to consider the relationship between art and activism, particularly in today’s political climate.  So, we are going to examine more closely artist who is practices involve the expression of legal concepts or even the interrogation of legal systems.  I’m thinking of proactive artist Kara Young, Jill Magid, and Aviva Rahmani.  But I digress from the business of art, that is, the art market.  What do we have in store for listeners who are interested more in the commercial aspects of art law?

Katie Wilson-Milne:  Well, we will be hosting podcasts about turning art into cash or the rise of art financing, and then a podcast on the art of the chase, or the psychology of buying art, just in time for the May auctions.  In that Podcast, we are going to look at art auctions, how they function to entice potential buyers and sellers, and the legal constrains under which they operate.

Steven Schindler:  Well, that sounds like a pretty impressive first season.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  It is.  And of course no art law podcast could be complete without a roundup of the latest legal battles over Nazi Looted art, and cultural property claims by countries like Turkey and Lebanon.

Steven Schindler:  Well, let’s keep folks guessing a little bit.  We will also have a few mystery guests and topics suggested by current events.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  So, stay tuned for our first episode on whether museums can sell your art coming out soon. That will be available on iTunes and the SCH website.  And, you can expect to hear from us monthly after that.  Until then, I’m Katie Wilson-Milne.

Steven Schindler:  And I’m Steve Schindler bringing you Art Law, a podcast exploring the places where art intersects with and interferes with the law.

Katie Wilson-Milne:  And vice-versa.

Produced by Jackie Santos