Gloria Gatti at the Giornale dell’Arte: the destruction of wall paintings No. 570 is “incitement” to damage the tax authorities and commit a crime

While in Ravenna, according to the plot of Sol LeWitt #570, various gossip continues to go crazy, seasoned with repeated requests for the resignation of the curator Mar Giorgia Salerno (the level is such that you give up and this newspaper is not going to follow in the footsteps of more or less anonymous letters written to newspapers) ,authoritative IL GIORNALE DELL’ARTE yesterday, May 12, devoted a large detailed article to Gloria Gatti entitled “Heirs and whims of Saul LeWitt in Ravenna” with this subtitle “The daughter asks to destroy the “Wall Painting”, made in 1988 and now on display. But this is prevented by the law, as well as the new Criminal Code.”

Who is Gloria Gatti? She is a famous lawyer. He regularly assists multinational and Italian companies as well as prestigious cultural institutions, auction houses and private collectors in various fields of art and heritage law. A freelance journalist, he contributes to numerous publications and academic journals dedicated to the industry.

What does Gloria Gatti write? “Just as Giorgio Vasari devoted himself to the whims and anecdotes of artists, so today one can collect in a book the whims and anecdotes of widows, children, grandchildren, or, more broadly, heirs and archives of artists. And the bizarre request for the destruction of “Mural No. 570” made in the Sea of ​​Ravenna by Sophia Levitt, daughter of the late artist Saul LeWitt (1928-2007), certainly deserves a long chapter, courageously exhibited to the public, starting April 13 last year at the Art Museum city ​​of Ravenna, after more than thirty years of storage. A requirement that almost resembles “incitement” to cause damage to the tax authorities and commit a crime under the new Art. 518-duodecies of the Criminal Code, which punishes anyone who “destroys, disperses, spoils or renders completely or partially unusable his own or others’ cultural or landscape values, with imprisonment for a term of two to five years and with a fine of 2500 euros to €15,000 “in the name of his nonexistent moral right”.

“Wall drawing No. 570 in the nineties was regularly included in the inventory of art treasures belonging first to the Municipal Art Gallery of Ravenna, and then to the municipality, becoming a cultural property protected by art. 30 of the Cultural Heritage Code and the full and exclusive property of the Institution, on the basis of civil law, by virtue of prescription of possession in accordance with Art. 1161 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, which has passed without interruption for 34 years of possession, peaceful, uninterrupted and unhindered. The work in 2015, without any controversy, was actually included in the Saul LeWitt Raisonné catalog of wall paintings published by Beatrice Gros (Artifex Press) in collaboration with the LeWitt Estate. There is no doubt that the author may destroy the work he created while it is still in his possession, in which case the destruction is comparable to the right of the unpublished. However, when transferring Corpus Mechanicum to third parties, the legal system does not justify such a contraction of ownership and does not allow the author to modify a single work without the consent of the copyright holder. – clarifies Gloria Gatti – Art. 2582 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and Articles 142 143 Lda (Copyright Law, ed.) also recognizes the wrongly defined “right to repentance” of the author, which is more correctly the right to withdraw the work from the market if there are “serious moral reasons”. The right of withdrawal is a very personal right, that is, it ceases to exist upon the death of the artist and as such cannot be transferred to the heirs and legal representatives specified in section 23 of the Human Rights Law, and arises when the author has transferred to third parties the property right to use on ‘Opera. An application for the withdrawal of works in a single copy owned by individuals, libraries and museums “who do not hold a work for sale or reproduction for profit” cannot, however, be accepted, even if it was formulated by the author during his lifetime.

“It is necessary to distinguish between temporary installations, which are created by contract to exist only for a limited period agreed in writing, and have the force of an agreement between the parties. However, there is no trace of such a treaty in the archives of the Ravenna Museum. The “delusion” is supposedly due to the fact that the American conceptual artist considered the idea as art, and not its expressive form, and believed that the “ownership” of the work does not always coincide with the property of a material object, but only comes from the possession of some documents, a certificate of authenticity and a diagram, rectius un sketch, which contained partial instructions on how to make or install it. – continues Gatti – Thus, in practice, the author has granted only the right to reproduce the sketch, which is copyrighted by LeWitt’s estate after his death and which now even requires the owners to obtain his permission and take advantage of archive supervision. installation. Fortunately, these clumsy attempts to negotiate art that would like to perpetuate moral rights and create monopolies are only of value to the market, but did not find recognition in the Copyright Law, which continued to treat art not as an idea, but as a means of expression. form is to deny that a certificate of authenticity can be considered a work and therefore protected. Indeed, an American collector who negligently sued his gallerist for the loss of his documents (certificate and diagram) belonging to Wall Painting No. 448 was denied insurance compensation in 2012 (Steinkampv. Hoffman judgment, no. 0651770). , 2012 WL 1941149, NYSup.Ct., May 22, 2012). However, Wall Painting No. 570 of the Sea of ​​Ravenna is not a wall painting intended for circulation through the transfer of documents. This is original panel work, presumably designed to be taken apart and rearranged in its original form in case the museum spaces need to be reorganized. Thus, Wall Painting No. 570, by Saul LeWitt and his assistants without a contract, is essentially an original, perhaps collective work of art, protected by copyright, as well as cultural, protected also from the whims of heirs, as an “artifact”, as Vittorio Sgarbi correctly stated.

For the record, strange is the fact that Ravenna’s young cultural adviser Fabio Sbaraglia did not even mention this authoritative intervention in defense of the work of the curator of the Sea of ​​Georgia Salerno, which looks impeccable, instead pursuing gossip related to letters more or less anonymous.

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