College Art Association

CAA News Today

Today the Musée du Louvre in Paris has launched an English-language version of its online collection database, Atlas. This interactive research tool will allow visitors to access information on 22,000 artworks from the Louvre, view high-resolution images of masterpieces, and locate exhibited works and galleries throughout the museum. Previously available only in French, Atlas is accessible free-of-charge.

Users can enter via the main Louvre website, choose English at upper right, and then go to Collections –> Databases and select Atlas.

The launch of the English version of Atlas was initiated by and funded with a €300,000 ($380,000) grant in 2004 from the American Friends of the Louvre, which was founded in 2002 to strengthen ties between the museum and its American public. The new version of the site will provide in-depth information on the Louvre’s extensive collection to the museum’s two million English-speaking visitors as well as to educators, students, researchers, and scholars.

Launched in 2003, Atlas provides quick and easy access to an exceptionally rich database of 26,000 of the 35,000 works on permanent display at the Louvre. Currently, 5,500 artists in a variety of media are represented on the site. In addition to gallery views, Atlas also provides online visitors with a virtual “Album” through which they can gather a selection of artworks and create and navigate their own personalized tour of the Louvre.

The English-language version of Atlas will include entries on 22,000 works of art, or approximately 80 percent of the original Atlas database, showcasing works most representative of the depth and scope of the Louvre’s collection.

“Guess what? The art is not yours to sell.” So says Jonathan Lee of the board of overseers of the maligned Rose Art Museum about a lawsuit filed yesterday that aims to stop Brandeis University from closing the institution and selling the art collection. Lee has joined fellow overseers Lois Foster and Meryl Rose—who is a member of the family that founded the museum—to ask the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to issue a preliminary injunction to halt the university’s plans.

Jerry Kronenberg of the Boston Herald and Tracy Jan of the Boston Globe have more on the story.

US v. Robert Stevens involves a federal statute that makes it a crime to own, possess, or display depictions of animal cruelty, if the acts portrayed are illegal in the state where someone owns, possesses, or sells them—even if the acts portrayed weren’t illegal when or where they were performed. The actual case involves a man who was convicted under the statute for a video about pit bulls that contained footage of dogfights in places where they were legal—not to promote dog fighting but to describe how the dogs have been/are used. The conviction was reversed on appeal on the ground that the prohibition on the depiction alone violates the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. It is important to emphasize, though, that cruelty to animals itself is illegal in most states, and CAA is not advocating for the repeal of those laws—just the law that bans any depiction of animal cruelty.

CAA has signed an amicus brief prepared by the National Coalition Against Censorship that will discuss the implications for free expression, focusing on some well-known art situations, such as Adel Abdessemed’s cancelled show at San Francisco Art Institute, Wim Delvoye’s tatooed pigs, and Hermann Nitsch’s performances. Whatever the ethical issues such work raises, we claim that pure expression—as opposed to actual acts of animal cruelty—should not be subject to criminal penalties, and that the government’s argument in favor of criminalizing speech if its “social cost” outweighs its “value” is so far-reaching that it would chill all kinds of protected expression and exhibition.

This case is relevant to not only artists but also art-history professors, as they may want to teach about ethical issues in art, including the treatment of animals in bioart, etc. The law as it stands might chill their ability to show such work.

CAA Statement

The College Art Association joins the National Coalition Against Censorship in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in striking down Section 48 as unconstitutional. Section 48 is unconstitutional because it could deter and punish the production, distribution, and even the simple possession of constitutionally protected speech. If the decision is reversed, not only will some lawful expression depicting animals being killed or injured be subject to criminal sanction, but the ramifications are also far-reaching: Congress and the states could outlaw the creation and possession of artworks that depict certain types of conduct simply on the basis that the conduct itself is illegal.

This would chill a wide range of expression, including, potentially, art that depicts such criminal activities as terrorist acts, drug use, and certain types of sexual behavior. Although CAA does not condone cruelty to animals or any other sort of unlawful conduct, CAA has long and firmly opposed artistic and scholarly censorship of all kinds.

Paul B. Jaskot, President, College Art Association
Professor, Department of Art and Art History, DePaul University

Linda Downs, Executive Director, College Art Association

US v. Robert Stevens involves a section of a federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 48) that makes it a crime to own, possess, or display depictions of animal cruelty if the acts portrayed are illegal in the state where someone owns, possesses, or sells them—even if the acts portrayed weren’t illegal when or where they were performed. The actual case involves a man who was convicted under the statute for a video about pit bulls that contained footage of dogfights in places where they were legal—not to promote dog fighting but to describe how the dogs have been/are used. The conviction was reversed on appeal on the ground that the prohibition on the depiction alone violates the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. It is important to emphasize, though, that cruelty to animals itself is illegal in most states, and CAA is not advocating for the repeal of those laws—just the law that bans any depiction of animal cruelty.

CAA has signed an amicus curiae brief prepared by the National Coalition Against Censorship that will discuss the implications for free expression, focusing on some well-known art situations, such as Adel Abdessemed’s cancelled show at San Francisco Art Institute, Wim Delvoye’s tattooed pigs, and Hermann Nitsch’s performances. Whatever the ethical issues such work raises, we claim that pure expression—as opposed to actual acts of animal cruelty—should not be subject to criminal penalties, and that the government’s argument in favor of criminalizing speech if its “social cost” outweighs its “value” is so far-reaching that it would chill all kinds of protected expression and exhibition.

This case is relevant to not only artists but also art-history professors, as they may want to teach about ethical issues in art, including the treatment of animals in bioart, etc. The law as it stands might chill their ability to show such work.

CAA Statement

The College Art Association joins the National Coalition Against Censorship in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in striking down Section 48 as unconstitutional. Section 48 is unconstitutional because it could deter and punish the production, distribution, and even the simple possession of constitutionally protected speech. If the decision is reversed, not only will some lawful expression depicting animals being killed or injured be subject to criminal sanction, but the ramifications are also far-reaching: Congress and the states could outlaw the creation and possession of artworks that depict certain types of conduct simply on the basis that the conduct itself is illegal.

This would chill a wide range of expression, including, potentially, art that depicts such criminal activities as terrorist acts, drug use, and certain types of sexual behavior. Although CAA does not condone cruelty to animals or any other sort of unlawful conduct, CAA has long and firmly opposed artistic and scholarly censorship of all kinds.

Paul B. Jaskot, President, College Art Association
Professor, Department of Art and Art History, DePaul University

Linda Downs, Executive Director, College Art Association

CAA invites nominations and self-nominations for two field editor positions for reviews of books and related media in caa.reviews for a four-year term, through June 30, 2013. Needed now are field editors for pre-1800 architecture and urbanism and for Egyptian and ancient Near Eastern art. This candidate may be an art historian, art critic, curator, or other art professional; institutional affiliation is not required.

Each field editor commissions reviews of books and related media for caa.reviews within an area of expertise. He or she selects books to be reviewed, commissions reviewers, determines the appropriate character of the reviews, and works with reviewers to develop manuscripts for publication. The field editor works with the caa.reviews Editorial Board as well as the caa.reviews editor-in-chief and CAA’s staff editor, and is expected to keep abreast of newly published and important books and related media in his or her field of expertise.

The Council of Field Editors meets annually at the CAA Annual Conference. Field editors must pay travel and lodging expenses to attend the conference.

Candidates must be current CAA members and should not be serving on the editorial board of a competitive journal or on another CAA editorial board or committee. Nominators should ascertain their nominee’s willingness to serve before submitting a name; self-nominations are also welcome. Please send a letter of interest, CV, and contact information to: Chair, caa.reviews Editorial Board, CAA, 275 Seventh Ave., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001; caareviews@collegeart.org. Deadline: August 1, 2009.

Filed under: caa.reviews, Education, Publications

Although funds are minimal, CAA will offer a limited number of Annual Conference Travel Grants to graduate students in art history and studio art and to international artists and scholars. Travel grants are funded solely by donations from CAA members—please contribute today. Charitable contributions are 100 percent tax deductible.

Graduate Student Conference Travel Grant

This $150 grant is awarded to a limited number of advanced PhD and MFA graduate students as partial reimbursement of expenses for travel to the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago. To qualify for the grant, students must be current CAA members. Candidates should include a completed application form, a brief statement by the student stipulating that he or she has no external support for travel to the conference, and a letter of support from the student’s adviser or head of department. For an application and more information, please contact Lauren Stark, CAA manager of programs, at 212-691-1051, ext. 248. Send application materials to: Lauren Stark, Graduate Student Conference Travel Grant, CAA, 275 Seventh Ave., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001. Deadline: September 25, 2009.

International Member Conference Travel Grant

CAA presents a $500 grant to a limited number of artists or scholars from outside the United States as partial reimbursement of expenses for travel to the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago. To qualify for the grant, applicants must be current CAA members. Candidates should include a completed application form, a brief statement by the applicant stipulating that he or she has no external support for travel to the conference, and two letters of support. For an application form and additional information, please contact Lauren Stark, CAA manager of programs, at 212-691-1051, ext. 248. Send materials to: Lauren Stark, International Member Conference Travel Grant, CAA, 275 Seventh Ave., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001. Deadline: September 25, 2009.

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has posted free audio recordings from eight 2009 Annual Conference sessions that took place at the Getty Center and Getty Villa. The audio can be streamed online or downloaded for playback on a computer or MP3 player. File sizes range from 41 to 142 MB.

Here are the sessions:

  • “That Captured Instant of Time: Realism and Drama in Baroque Sculpture,” chaired by Catherine Hess
  • “Luxury Devotional Books and Their Female Owners,” chaired by Thomas Kren and Richard Leson
  • “What We Talk about When We Talk about Artist’s Books,” chaired by Marcia Reed
  • “European Drawings, 1400–1900,” chaired by Lee Hendrix and Stephanie Schrader
  • “Networks and Boundaries,” chaired by Thomas Gaehtgens
  • “Cabinet Pictures in Seventeenth-Century Europe,” chaired by Andreas Henning
  • “The Medieval Manuscript Transformed,” chaired by Kristen Collins and Christine Sciacca
  • “The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria,” chaired by Karol Wight

The sessions are among several Highlights of Past Programs, which also include videos of interviews with the artists Jim Dine and Robert Irwin. The Getty’s Museum Symposia section makes available papers from a 2006 symposium, “Looking at the Landscapes: Courbet and Modernism.”

CAA offers audio recordings from many other 2009 conference sessions, as well as from other recent conferences. Please visit CAA’s Conference Audio Recordings for more information.

The July CAA News has just been published and posted to the CAA website. All individual and institutional members can download a PDF of it now.

With this issue, CAA News returns to a digital-only format. The layout of the newsletter has changed to better fit your computer screen, and all images are now in color. If you prefer to read a hard copy, the printout pages are clear and readable.

Inside, CAA talks to Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber about their new book, Art/Work: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career (see pages 4–7). You can also read early details about the upcoming 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago: registration prices have just been announced (see page 16), and applications for a limited number of conference travel grants are available (pages 17–18).

Be sure to visit CAA News on the web on a regular basis. CAA will also continue using other forms of electronic communication—Facebook, Twitter, email blasts, and more—to get important organizational information to you.

Filed under: CAA News, Publications

CAA rounds up several legal issues related to the art and academic worlds.

US Ban on Muslim Scholar

Last week the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision regarding Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim professor who was not allowed into the country to teach at the University of Notre Dame. The State Department revoked Ramadan’s visa in 2004 via the USA Patriot Act and then denied another one two years later because he contributed to a charity that was allegedly supporting Hamas, a Palestinian group that is a terrorist group in the eyes of the American government. Ramadan may now be able to dispute this claim, which could reinstate his visa status.

Three groups—the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors, and PEN American Center—worked with the American Civil Liberties Union on the case. The New York Times has the story on the recent ruling.

Shepard Fairey’s Obama Poster

The photographer whose image was used in Shepard Fairey’s iconic poster of Barack Obama argues that the Associated Press, who is suing Fairey for copyright infringement, does not actually possess the photograph’s copyright. Erik Larsen at Bloomberg has more details.

National Gallery and Digital Images

The National Portrait Gallery in London is threatening a lawsuit against Derrick Coetzee, a Seattle man who downloaded thousands of high-resolution images from the museum’s website and posted many on Wikipedia. In the US, photographs of two-dimensional works of art are not protected by copyright because the photographs lack originality (per Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp from 1999). In the UK, however, there is not a similar legal precedent. The Independent and the Guardian have reported on the developing story.

A Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, may not intervene in the sale of artworks that the late artist donated to Fisk University. For more than three years the cash-strapped Nashville school, which owns a substantial bequest that includes O’Keeffe’s famous Radiator Building – Night, New York (1927) and Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 3 (1913), has wanted to sell those two paintings to—and share the display of many other works in the prized collection with—the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Travis Loller of the Associated Press and Jack Silverman of the Nashville Scene have more details.

CAA encourages you to sign a petition that supports the integrity and value of university and college art museums.