Art Law Report

Exhibition Interference Shows That Public Institutions Still Struggle with First Amendment

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 23, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Use of Confederate Flag in California Painting and Klan Imagery in Massachusetts Leads to Removal of Controversial Works

Two recent interventions by public authorities to remove controversial works of art underscore that, like last year’s Leonard Peltier painting dispute, the proper application of the First Amendment remains more elusive than it should.  In California, a state law prohibiting the display of the Confederate flag led to the removal of a specific painting from an exhibition, while north of Boston at Salem State University, a painting depicting figures in Ku Klux Klan robes was shut down entirely.  Together, these examples provide a useful of what state authorities can, and cannot do with regards to messages they find offensive.  The difference is very important.

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Topics: Ku Klux Klan, The Boston Globe, Confederate Flag, First Amendment, Leonard Peltier, Salem State University, Timothy Desmond, Civil War, Garry Harley, Fresno, State of the Union

Anish Kapoor in Versailles: Requiring Removal of Graffiti Turns Into Compelled Speech

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 22, 2015 at 6:27 AM

Back in June, sculptor Anish Kapoor installed the sculpture Dirty Corner on the grounds of the famous palace there. Kapoor, who can’t seem to avoid public controversy over his work, saw the sculpture first become the object of debate with regard to its form itself, specifically, the suggestion that the shape of the large work was anatomical. Kapoor coyly fostered speculations about what it was meant to represent, but ultimately demurred that his “work has multiple interpretive possibilities." With recent vandalism and a court order that he remove the graffiti, however, the story has turned into one more about free expression and compelled speech. So far, it does not have a happy ending.

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Topics: Yahoo, Rock Fan, Versailles, The Art Newspaper, Fabien Bouglé, Ku Klux Klan, Dirty Corner, Graffiti Art, France, Williams College, Fleur Pellerin, Nazis, Palace of Versailles, Confederate Flag, Richard Serra, Catherine Pégard, refugee crisis, Williams College Museum of Art, First Amendment, Yardbird Suite, Anish Kapoor, François Hollande, vandalism, anti-Semitic, Graffiti, Amherst College, Tilted Arc

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