Wednesday Bits: Pride of Pwnership

Pablo-Picasso-Head-of-a-Young-Woman-1906-865x577

Who’s Picasso is it anyhow?

There were many objections, a lot threats and some immediate backlash when German cultural minister, Monika Grütters, set in motion a proposal that would severely regulate the export and sale of German works that are deemed of significant cultural value.

It struck me that the press kept an objective stance, giving voice to Grütters and to the objectors (artists and dealers alike). Now that Spain’s cultural ministry is blocking the export and possible sale of a notable Picasso, the press seems to be exhibiting a different bias, giving very little voice to banking mogul, Jaime Botín who purchased the Head of a Young woman in 1977 from the Marlborough Gallery in London.

What’s making the difference?

Perhaps it’s the focus on a particular work: a 1906 painting, it is one of a handful of works created by Picasso during his Gósol period which is noted for its Iberian influences, and therefore a pivotal bit of cubist history. It is hard to argue with the significance of the work: add to that the fact that it was made by a Malaga born artist, and it becomes clear why Spain considers it a national treasure. The desire to keep it in Spain and to make it available to the public then seems noble.

In one of the few stories to offer Botín’s point of view, SUR writes:

“Jaime Botín’s lawyers are maintaining that the painting, bought in 1977 in London, is not Spanish but is in fact British and therefore not subject to Spanish law. “For years” they say, “it has been permanently aboard a British registered vessel, which places it on foreign territory even when moored in a Spanish port”. They answer accusations that the painting was illegally exported from Spain by claiming that it “was painted on foreign soil, was bought on foreign soil and has been permanently domiciled abroad … so it could not have been exported, either legally or illegally.”

However, Botín may have precluded the possibility of using this argument when he applied for the right to transport the work several times over the past three years.

Sur cites Javier García Fernández, professor of Constitutional Law who stated: “From the moment you ask for authorization to export something from Spain, it is refused, and you go to court, you are admitting that it belongs to Spain”.

It will be interesting to see how these cases play out and as we weigh the rights of individual collectors, dealers, and artists against the power of those who are entrusted with the task of guarding cultural heritage.

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The beauty of the Bean: Google image search sreeenshot by TAM, featured pic by Allen Turk
The beauty of the bean: Google image search sreeenshot by TAM, featured pic by Allen Turk

And Who Owns Giant Concave Shiny Round Sculptures?

Speaking of who owns what, we have a copyright issue this week — always fun — with Anish Kapoor threatening to sue the shanzhai off an as-yet-unnammed Chinese artist who has (allegedly?) ripped off his famous Chicago Bean (properly known as Cloud Gate).

Ma Jun, the planning and construction-management section chief of Karamay’s Tourism Bureau, declined to name the offending artist, but defended the work, telling the Wall Street Journal’s China RealTime blog that it’s an oil bubble and not a copy at all:

“The idea of the oil bubble comes from the Black Oil Mountain, which is a natural oil well in Karamay. While we use similar materials, the shapes and meanings are different. ‘Cloud Gate’ intends to reflect the sky, but ours reflects the ground; that’s why we used granite to imitate oil waves (in the area surrounding the sculpture).”

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Pride of Pwnership
Pride of Pwnership

Richard Prints

The Suicide Girls post racy Instagram pics. Last year Richard Prince pwned them, manufacturing prints of the ladies steamy posts and selling them via Gagosian for a rumored $90,000 per. The Suicide Girls re-pwned Prince by selling prints of the same images on the cheap for $90 via their website to benefit the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

ArtNews reports that the clever postmod retort impressed Postmasters dealer, Magda Sawon who thought her son’s recently purchased Suicide Girls re-appropriation was perfect for the #WCW (@womencrushwednesday) show “a show of selfportraits, movie stars, wives and girlfriends, world leaders, mothers, friends, war veterans, old Hungarian ladies, Virgin Mary, instagram celebrities, journalists and little girls,” so she borrowed it and included it in the exhibit.

Sawon was not selling the Suicide Girls print, but she was hoping to “drive some sales their way.”

What could go wrong? This: two (anonymous) owners of newly purchased Suicide Girls reappropriations thought they spotted a fellow opportunist in Postmasters and approached the gallery looking to flip the barely dry prints! Offended, Sawon told them to scram. I think Prince should buy them, sign them and flip ’em again.

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