The Cy Twombly Foundation Battle the Louvre

stlukesguild

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The Cy Twombly Foundation Battle the Louvre

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IMO, Twombly's mural for the Louvre is one of his worst paintings... and that says a good deal considering my opinion of Twombly as a painter. But I'll not get into that debate here. This lawsuit was not instigated by Twombly but by his foundation... and it reminds me a good deal of the suit several decades ago brought by Richard Serra. Serra had installed a piece of public art in NYC entitled Tilted Arc resulting in a protest by those of the public who were forced to deal with the work each day.

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It was argued that not only was the work ugly and depressing, but it lengthened the workers' walk to and from work and also present a safety issue as it provided a cover for muggers and stalkers. The city decided to move the piece to another site but Serra argued that the work was site-specific and any changes in the site changed and ruined the work. I court it was asked how Serra could assume that New York City... a city continually building and changing cannot make any changes that might change Serra's initial conception on the installation of Tilted Arc?

The claims made for Twombly's Ceiling by his foundation strike me as equally problematic. How can it be presumed that a work by a contemporary artist take precedence over the ability of the museum to change the installations of their collections... especially when the museum is not at all devoted to contemporary art? Actually, the reddish walls make more sense in relation to the collection of Etruscan Art than the white and limestone and names of Greek sculptors.



 

Claude J Greengrass

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I would ask the court; "does the Louvre own the painting?" If the answer is yes, the Louvre has the right to whitewash the ceiling of their own building if they want to regardless of Twombly's mural.
 

brianvds

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It was argued that not only was the work ugly and depressing, but it lengthened the workers' walk to and from work and also present a safety issue as it provided a cover for muggers and stalkers. The city decided to move the piece to another site but Serra argued that the work was site-specific and any changes in the site changed and ruined the work. I court it was asked how Serra could assume that New York City... a city continually building and changing cannot make any changes that might change Serra's initial conception on the installation of Tilted Arc?
If a work cannot withstand being moved it's probably not much good. :)

As I recall, abstract art initially got its support from people like Rockefeller, who wanted to support art but not end up getting sued. The artists and their foundations seem to have forgotten this. If you're going to get sued anyway, you might as well return to supporting real art. :)
 

Artyczar

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That's a tricky one since it was site specific. It really depends on what was agreed upon in the initial contract/agreement no matter who likes or dislikes it. Same went for the outdoor piece. I don't think they should have moved it, but that's my opinion. If it caused that many problems, they should have just removed it all together. If it was site-specific, then how could it be moved to a different site? If the Twombly piece can be painted over completely, then they should probably do it, so long as they didn't agree to forever having it there.
 

stlukesguild

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That's a tricky one since it was site specific. It really depends on what was agreed upon in the initial contract/agreement no matter who likes or dislikes it.

I largely agree with you here. Considering the institution the painting was made for I somehow doubt that any contract would have been written for a work to remain in a specific room which cannot be changed in perpetuity. I doubt that any curator would have been given the right to even make such an agreement for the Louvre. I agree with Claude in asking "who owns the painting?" Then again, even if a collector or museum owns a work of art, there is the question of the artist's moral rights... which may be of more weight in France than in the US. It has been agreed upon for some time in legal circles that a collector cannot do something to a work of art that would undermine the reputation of the artist. For example, one cannot alter a work under most circumstances. If the Louvre were to cover the walls under the Twombly with silly cartoon characters that would certainly change the impact of a work to such an extent as to undermine the reputation of the artist. The question is whether these changes amount to such a change and affect the reputation of the artist.

I truly like seeing art in its original intended environment... but this is not possible in most circumstances... especially in a museum collection. Museums collect a broad array of art with hight differing intentions. You might enter a room of Renaissance paintings and find a couple of altarpieces, a number of portraits, and a couple of erotic mythological narratives. These works may have been produced at the same time in history... even by the same artist... but would likely never have been originally displayed in a single environment. Mark Rothko famously became outraged when the gallery he was showing with also began exhibiting works of Pop Art. But it was ridiculous or unrealistic for him to expect these galleries and even collectors to only exhibit his work in the manner that he imagined. Of course that might be every artist's fantasy: the "one man/woman show" or the Gesamtkunstwerk.
 

Artyczar

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We finally agree when it comes to something about Twombly! Ha! :LOL:

Gesamtkunstwerk? Do I have to go to Google translator now?
 

stlukesguild

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Gesamtkunstwerk: a total art piece. I believe the phrase was first employed in relation to Wagner's operas in which the artist had written the narratives and the lyrics as well as the music and later designed the theater in which the operas of the Ring Cycle were to be performed. I've long thought of the medieval cathedrals which created a total experience. Outside, the architecture... the tallest by far of the era... would call the worshippers visually from a distance and aurally with the ringing of the bells. At the threshold, the "audience" would be confronted with the sights of sculptural renderings of Biblical narratives. Upon entering, the largely peasant worshippers would be confronted by the most beautiful saints dressed in gold and brilliant colors painted on the walls or as sculpture. They would hear heavenly music from the choir and smell the sweet scents of the incense. The priests and choir-boys would be garbed in the most fabulous clothing, while the altar would be covered in gold. The total art piece, I would think, would be the work of art as theater.
 

brianvds

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Then again, even if a collector or museum owns a work of art, there is the question of the artist's moral rights... which may be of more weight in France than in the US. It has been agreed upon for some time in legal circles that a collector cannot do something to a work of art that would undermine the reputation of the artist. For example, one cannot alter a work under most circumstances. If the Louvre were to cover the walls under the Twombly with silly cartoon characters that would certainly change the impact of a work to such an extent as to undermine the reputation of the artist. The question is whether these changes amount to such a change and affect the reputation of the artist.

They should perhaps just move the work to a more appropriate setting, such as a child's bedroom.

In Amadeus, there is a scene in which musicians have to compete for the right to give music lessons to some or other princess. Mozart doesn't get the post, and the person who did get it is, in his opinion, a mediocrity. He might in fact actually do harm to the princess' musical education.

Salieri then replies with one of the more witty lines in the film: "Believe me, nothing in the world can do harm to her musical education."

I tend to feel the same way about Twombly's artistic reputation. :D
 

Claude J Greengrass

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They should perhaps just move the work to a more appropriate setting, such as a child's bedroom.

In Amadeus, there is a scene in which musicians have to compete for the right to give music lessons to some or other princess. Mozart doesn't get the post, and the person who did get it is, in his opinion, a mediocrity. He might in fact actually do harm to the princess' musical education.

Salieri then replies with one of the more witty lines in the film: "Believe me, nothing in the world can do harm to her musical education."

I tend to feel the same way about Twombly's artistic reputation. :D
I concur. ;)
 
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