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

While in Ravenna over the story Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings # 570 various rumors continue to go mad, spiced with repeated calls for the resignation of the curator of the Mar Giorgia Salerno (the level is so high that the arms are falling and this newspaper has no intention of leaving traces anymore or less anonymous follow letters to newspapers),The authoritative IL GIORNALE DELL’ARTE dedicated yesterday, May 12th, a long, detailed article by Gloria Gatti with the title “Heirs and Caprices for Sol LeWitt in Ravenna” with this subtitle “The daughter demands the destruction of the ‘wall drawing’ that was made in 1988 and is now on display. But the law prevents it, and so does the new Penal Code”.

Who is Gloria Gatti? She is a renowned lawyer. He regularly assists multinational and Italian companies as well as renowned cultural institutions, auction houses and private collectors in the various areas of art law and cultural heritage. As a freelance journalist, he collaborates with numerous publications and academic journals dedicated to the industry.

What does Gloria Gatti write? “Just as Giorgio Vasari devoted himself to the whims and anecdotes of artists, today one could collect in a book the whims and anecdotes of widows, children, grandchildren, or more generally of artists’ heirs and archives. And the whimsical request for the destruction of Wall Drawing # 570, made by the Ravenna Sea by Sofia LeWitt, daughter of the late artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), certainly deserved a lengthy chapter, boldly displayed to the public from April 13th. Opened to the public on April last year at the Art Museum of the City of Ravenna after more than thirty years of storage. A request almost tantamount to an “incitement” to harm the financial authorities and to commit the crime envisaged by the new art. 518-Duodecies of the Criminal Code and which punishes anyone who “destroys, disperses, deteriorates or renders wholly or partially unusable the cultural or landscape property, his own or of others, with imprisonment from two to five years and a fine of €2,500 to €15,000 “, in the name of his nonexistent moral right.”

“The mural no. 570 was regularly included in the inventory of artistic assets during the 1990s, belonging first to the Municipal Art Gallery of Ravenna and then to the Municipality, and became a Cultural Asset Protected by Art. 30 of the Code of Cultural Heritage and full and exclusive property of the institution, based on civil law, by virtue of usucapione pursuant to art. 1161 of the Civil Code, after 34 years of ownership have passed without interruption, peacefully, uninterrupted and unchallenged. The work was included without a doubt in the 2015 Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings catalog Raisonné edited by Béatrice Gros (Artifex Press) in association with the LeWitt Estate. There is no question that the author can destroy the work he has created while it is still in his domain, in which case destruction is comparable to the right not to be published. However, when the Corpus Mechanicum has been transferred to a third party, the legal system does not justify such a compression of ownership and does not allow the author to modify the individual work without the consent of the owner. – specifies Gloria Gatti – Art. 2582 of the Civil Code and Articles 142 143 Lda (Copyright Law, Ed) also recognize the author’s ill-defined “right of remorse”, which is more precisely the right to withdraw the work from the market if there are “serious moral reasons”. The right of withdrawal is a very personal right, that is, it expires upon the death of the artist and as such is not transferable to the heirs and beneficiaries referred to in art. 23 of the Lda and arises when the author has the pecuniary right to use the ‘ Opera. However, the request for the return of single copies held by private individuals, libraries and museums “who do not own the work in order to sell it for profit or to reproduce it” cannot be accepted even if it is formulated by the author during his lifetime.”

“This is to be distinguished from temporary installations which, based on a contract, only remain in place for a limited period agreed in writing and with the effectiveness of an agreement between the parties. However, there is no trace of such a contract in the archives of the Ravenna Museum. The “misleadingness” is probably due to the fact that the American conceptual artist saw the idea as art and not as an expression of it, believing that the “ownership” of the work does not always coincide with that of the material object, but only comes from owning a few documents , the certificate of authenticity and the diagram, rectius un sketch, which partly contained instructions for manufacture or installation. – continues Gatti – In practice, therefore, the author only granted a right to reproduce the sketch, which has been copyrighted by the LeWitt Estate since his death and now even requires that the owners obtain his consent and avail archival oversight of the installation. Fortunately, these clumsy attempts to contract art that seeks to perpetuate moral rights and create monopolies have only found market value but no recognition in copyright law, which continues to regard art not as an idea but as an expression of form, denying that a Certificate of authenticity can be viewed as a work and thus protectable. In fact, an American collector who negligently sued his gallerist for the loss of his documents (certificate and diagram) on «Wall Drawing # 448» was denied insurance reimbursement in 2012 (Steinkamp v. Hoffman judgment, no. 0651770 , 2012 WL 1941149, NYSup.Ct. May 22, 2012). However, the “Wall Drawing # 570” of the Ravenna Sea is not a mural intended for dissemination thanks to document transfer. It is an original work and was produced on panels, presumably intentionally, to be disassembled and rearranged in its original version should the museum spaces need to be reorganized. Thus, Wall Drawing # 570, made by Sol LeWitt and his assistants without contract, is in fact an original, perhaps collective, work of art, copyrighted and protected both culturally and from the vagaries of the world’s heirs, like “an artifact,” like Vittorio Sgarbi correctly explained.”

Unique is the fact that the young Councilor of 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, which appears impeccable, to instead pursue gossip rumors with it letters more or less anonymously .

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