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The Artsy Podcast, No. 32: The Law Shaking Up the Art World

Artsy Editorial
Apr 20, 2017 10:24PM

Artsy’s team of editors takes you behind the scenes of the best stories in art.

You can find the Artsy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, or the podcasting app of your choice. Don’t forget to rate the show and leave us comments; we’d love to hear from you.

Does an artist have the legal right to protect the intangible messages of their artwork? That’s the question facing Arturo Di Modica, creator of Wall Street’s iconic bronze Charging Bull, which last month was joined by another, more diminutive bronze called Fearless Girl. Di Modica argues the addition—which stares down his bull—changes the message of his work and violates his legal rights.

On this episode, we’re joined by two art lawyers—Yayoi Shionoiri, Senior Counsel at Artsy, and Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, professor and founder of New York’s Art & Law Program—to discuss the U.S. law at the heart of Di Modica’s claim. That’s the Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA), which gives artists certain rights over their work they no longer own. Though perhaps not a household name, VARA is a singular law that has had an outsized influence on the art world since its passage in 1990.

This podcast is hosted by Artsy Associate Editor Isaac Kaplan, joined for this edition by Yayoi Shionoiri and Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. It was produced by Editorial Associate Abigail Cain.

Intro music: “Something Elated” by Broke For Free

Cover image: Photo by Shinya Suzuki, via Flickr

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019