Art and Authority: Moral Rights and Meaning in Contemporary Visual Art

ISBN : 9780198867005

K. E. Gover
208 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Nov 2020
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People engage with authored works all the time. They buy paintings, read books, download songs - they may even be artists themselves. Very rarely, however, is the concept of authorship brought into question. The basic idea that the artist as an author maintains some kind of claim to his or her creation, even as it circulates in the world at large, seems natural. It is the basis for copyright law and moral rights legislation which protect the rights of authors. But what is an author, and why do artists receive special legal recognition and protection that the creators of other kinds of artefacts do not? It is often assumed that artists have a special bond with their artworks, but the nature of this bond and its function as the source of an artist's authority over their work often goes unquestioned. Art and Authority is a philosophical essay on artistic freedom: its sources, nature, and limits. Artistic freedom can mean different things depending on the context in which it is invoked. K. E. Gover argues that the most fundamental form of artistic freedom involves the artist's authority to accept or disavow the works that they produce and to curate the works that bear their name. Our very concept of what an artwork is the intentional expression of the artist, for its own sake depends on this second-order endorsement by the artist of what they have made. Using real-world cases and controversies in contemporary visual art, Gover argues that the leading accounts of artistic authorship in the legal and philosophical literature have overlooked the significance of this moment.


1 Introduction
2 Art, Authorship, and Authorization
3 When the Work is Finished
4 The Artist and the Institution
5 Boundary Issues: Reconsidering the Artist's Sanction
6 Taking Pictures: Appropriation Art, Copyright, and Intentionalism
7 Conclusion

About the author: 

K. E. Gover is a philosophy professor and art critic at Bennington College in Vermont.

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