Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Copyright and Originality: Malevich and the American Legacy at Gagosian

Kazimir Malevich - Mystic Suprematism 1920-27

Arthur Danto wrote of  Kazimir Malevich's Black Square:  "We marvel at its originality, not its painterly brilliance."   A great video on the Gagosian website with curator Andrea Crane introducing the work of Malevich and its influence on American artists such as Richard Serra is found here.

The show at Gagosian called "Malevich and the American Legacy" is wonderful, I was fortunate to have a guided tour.   Andrea Crane quotes (I paraphrase) MoMA founder Alfred Barr as saying "Each generation needs recreate its own Black Square."

Copyright does not protect simple geometric shapes like squares.   That does not stop the art world from finding freshness, originality and tremendous value in works such as Black Square.   Which should give us all time to pause and reflect on the meaning of ownership, of originality, and of inspirational conversations had among past, present and future artists.   

Images from the show here.   The show closes April 30, 2011.

More on Suprematism here.

Some cases discussing copyright law's originality requirement here and here.   The US Supreme Court required originality and rejected the "sweat of the brow" doctrine in Feist v. Rural, a case involving litigation over telephone books.
 Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2010 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  

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