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2008 | 49 | 20-41

Article title

MODERN ART EXHIBITIONS AND THE PROTECTION OF THE INTEGRITY OF WORKS OF ART (Wystawiennictwo sztuki nowoczesnej a ochrona integralnosci utworów)


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Museums in Poland and many other countries are trying to meet the requirements of the contemporary recipient, who expects not merely contact with art of the past but also to observe its most recent transformations. Another important task involves interesting the widest possible group of potential addressees in exhibitions. At times, however, bolder scenarios or forms of exposition not only refuse to reflect the message and ideas launched by the authors of the featured works, but even result in their total deformation. The article distinguishes several relatively typical situations when such a phenomenon may transpire, i. a. in the case of errors committed while displaying a concrete work of art or a mistaken re-installation of an interdisciplinary composition. Other examples are associated with the realisation of a scenario which in itself comprises an important artistic statement or the propagation of certain ideas, the display of reconstructions or copies, including inter-active copies for the needs of the active participation of the recipients and constituting a conception, a project or an expression of an artistic stand. A detailed analysis of such situations, enabled the authors to indicate the most frequent cases of a disturbance or alteration of the message of various works of art and the ensuing outcome. Much attention has been paid to the legal consequences, which may consist of copyright violations. As a rule, they involves a breach of the so-called right to integrity, which makes it possible for the author to demand that his work be displayed in a manner that does not affect adversely its form and contents. In extreme instances, such a request may be formulated in a court of law. At the same time, it is mandatory to stress that the above-mentioned right enjoyed by the artists is by no means a specific feature of Polish copyright, but is based on the law binding in the majority of states. Furthermore, its normative essence is contained in the Berne convention on copyright. In the authors' opinion, the curators, conservators and organisers of exhibitions should be concerned predominantly with avoiding situations that might lead to the mentioned violations. Such an obligation encompasses not only the exhibition scenarios, but should be also taken into consideration in the course of more widely comprehended preparations connected with their organisation, including posters, catalogues, etc. Within this context, we cannot forget the curator-conservation protection which in modern museum procedures foresees successive steps concerning the artists' copyright, starting with the acquisition of an art work and its extremely detailed examination, an interview with the artist, the formulation of directives concerning the assembly and treatment of the exhibits in order to preserve their safety, and, finally, guide lines relating to a suitable re-installation at the time of the show, concurrent with the artist's conceptions and the ideas contained in his/her work of art.







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  • Iwona Szmelter, Uniwersytet Artystyczny w Poznaniu, Interdyscyplinarna Pracownia Konserwacji i Restauracji Sztuki Nowoczesnej, al. Marcinkowskiego 29, 60-967 Poznan 9 , skrytka pocztowa 191, Poland.


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