College Art Association

CAA News Today

The Association for Information and Media Equipment, a group of educational film and video producers and distributors dealing with copyright issues related to libraries, universities, and media centers, has threatened to sue the University of California, Los Angeles for streaming copyrighted video content on course websites. UCLA is claiming fair use, but the issue—involving royalty payments, academic-subsidized research, and current copyright law—is much more complex.

Steve Kolowich of Inside Higher Ed reports that negotiations between the organization and the school are private, and a debate about the legality of libraries making digital copies of DVDs it owns for wider dissemination to students has arisen. In his article Kolowich talks to librarians, professors, and media-industry experts to provide a larger, if not clearer, picture of what is at stake.

February 5 update: J. B. DeVries of Academic Impressions discusses policy issues when dealing with streaming video.

Today in Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports on recent work of a task force, comprising representatives from seven national and international organizations, that is raising awareness of the value of university and college art museums and galleries in light of recent events involving attempts by schools to sell work from their collections.

In “Avoiding the Next Brandeis,” Jaschik talks to the task-force cochair David Alan Robertson, director of Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, who is “trying to impress upon [regional higher-education accrediting agencies] that museums shouldn’t be viewed as extras, but as ‘teaching institutions and research institutions.’” Jaschik continues, “Another strategy being discussed is encouraging colleges to define the financial exigency plans—or what they would do in a severe financial crisis—and to make the case that museums should not be the first institutions to be closed.”

Lyndel King, task-force cochair and director and chief curator of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, tells the reporter that “we need to educate college administrators and governing boards that disposing of their collections can’t be a way to fill the coffers or seen as an easy way to bring in money.”

The task force comprises representatives from CAA, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries, the International Council of Museums, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Association of Art Museum Curators. The next meeting of the task force will take place on January 9, 2010, in Sarasota, Florida, in conjunction with the midwinter gathering of the Association of Art Museum Directors.

You may read the petition, published by the task force in July 2009, and include your name and affiliation in the growing list of signatories. A prominent advertisement will appear in the Chronicle for Higher Education later this month; you can download a PDF of it or click and save the above image for use in blogs, press, and more. The task force had planned to include all signatories in the ad, but the list has exceeded 2,200 names and institutional affiliations—too many to include in print.

A report issued by a Brandeis University committee recommends that the school’s Rose Art Museum remain open, but the future of the collection of modern and contemporary art is still in doubt.

In the Boston Globe, Tracy Jan writes that the committee, comprising teachers, students, and university trustees and officials, also suggests better integration between the museum and academic departments, which include not just visual art but also math and science. In addition, a full-time director, who would also teach, and an education director should be hired.

This past summer several members of the Rose Art Museum’s board of overseers filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts in an attempt to prevent Brandeis from selling the art collection. Last week the university filed to dismiss that lawsuit, according to Greg Cook of the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. An October 13 hearing date has been set.

In response to troubling trends in university museums and galleries—including the sale of Maier Art Museum paintings by Randolph College, the closure of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, and the threat of sale of important modernist works at Fisk University—a task force was formed that includes CAA, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries, and the Kress Foundation to address ways to educate university trustees about the educational value of university museums and to explore protective avenues. A petition was circulated to various associations and also set up online, which received several thousand signatures—including many from CAA members. The petition will be published in the Chronicle of Higher Education later this fall. Quiet conversations are continuing with Brandeis trustees, and several university accreditation commissions have been apprised of the concerns of the task force and the visual-arts field.

On the same topic, caa.reviews recently published an essay entitled “Curricular Connections: The College/University Art Museum as Site for Teaching and Learning.” The author, Laurel Bradley, who is director of exhibitions and curator of the College Art Collection at Carleton College, provides a brief history of university museums and galleries since the mid-twentieth century before exploring several recent initiatives—some funded by the Mellon Foundation’s College and University Art Museum Program—that combine academic and curatorial teaching and education in novel, and often successful, ways.

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.

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

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.

Several university art museums or their school administrations have recently sold, or have attempted to sell, artworks and objects in their collections to offset operating costs. In response to this, CAA has joined a task force supporting the educational importance of preserving collections at university museums and galleries. The task force—which includes representatives from the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation—has established a two-pronged effort: 1) to recognize museums as integral educational resources in the university accreditation process; and 2) to heighten public awareness of the educational value of art museum collections.

Members of the task force are meeting with accreditation organizations throughout the country to enlist their support for the recognition of art museums as integral educational resources.

A petition has been prepared that reaffirms the integrity and value of university and college museums.

Please show support for our efforts by adding your name and affiliation to this petition, which will be published in the Chronicle of Higher Education this fall. Please encourage your university, college, or museum to sign it as well.

Thank you for your support on this critical issue.

Paul B. Jaskot, President, and Linda Downs, Executive Director