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ERIC Number: EJ1002463
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8510
Christoph Buchel v. Mass MoCA: A "Tilted Arc" for the Twenty-First Century
Gover, K. E.
Journal of Aesthetic Education, v46 n1 p46-58 Spr 2012
The tension among the different models for understanding the relation between the artist and the artwork is brought most explosively to light when legal battles erupt between artists and institutions. This can be found in both the "Tilted Arc" controversy of the 1980s and in a recent dispute involving the Swiss installation artist Christoph Buchel and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). On the surface, these cases are very different: the former concerned a work of public art commissioned by the government, while the latter involves an unfinished installation in an art institution. Nevertheless, in both cases what is at stake are the artist's moral rights over his creation and the competing claims of the exhibiting institutions' rights either to destroy, distort, or display the work against the artist's wishes. While the circumstances and debates surrounding the "Titled Arc" dispute are well-known and will not be rehearsed here, the recent controversy between Buchel and Mass MoCA has yet to receive the serious critical attention it deserves. The artist claims that the museum violated his moral rights for attempting to display to the public his unfinished and abandoned artwork in its galleries; however, the museum had expended large amounts of its own time and money to produce the work. The implications of this case regarding the shifting dynamics between artists and institutions are enormous, especially as institutions move into the role of producing and financing the creation of artworks rather than just exhibiting them. In the first part of this essay, the author explains Mass MoCA's founding principles as a distinctively new and "postmodern" form of art museum. She then discusses the lawsuit between the museum and artist Christoph Buchel, as well as the reaction by the art world. She wants to discuss the details of the controversy at considerable length in order to highlight some of the most important issues that have emerged. In the final part of the essay, she argues that, as with "Tilted Arc," the dispute reveals a performative contradiction concerning artistic authority endemic to "postmodern" art, in which the ideology of the single author-creator is simultaneously rejected and championed. One of the lessons to be gleaned from this dispute is that educators ought to be more cautious when they tell their students (and themselves) that certain ideals surrounding artists and artworks are outmoded and untenable. While it is a commonplace in academic and art world settings to denounce the "myth" of the artistic genius or to disparage the image of the "Romantic" artist, the real myth is the belief that these ideals no longer apply to contemporary art. (Contains 28 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts