Monday, February 11, 2008

Public Sculpture That Can't be Photographed

Today's research has brought forth a new issue concerning public art. Copyright, infringement lawsuits over photos taken of public sculpture. Now before you start in on me, as a sculptor I am all too familiar with copyrights and art, but this even to me seems to smell of greed! When a sculptor creates a commissioned public work of art they know very well that the public is going to take photos of the masterpiece, while most sculptors retain artistic rights to their works, this is after all a public sculpture which is generally paid for from private or public funds and placed on public land. So why all the controversy, is a photo reproducing the sculptors work, not really, photos are two dimensional, sculpture is three dimensional (small print item in copyright laws about producing in different format), but that is another case for an argument for another time.

I personally as a sculptor relish the notion of someone wanting to take a photo of one of my sculptures. Why am I not upset over the photo "Free Advertising", so what if the photographer plans on selling the photo, guess what my sculpture is promoted one more time! Now it would be nice if the photographer placed a small credit somewhere for the sculptor but this is not entirely necessary.

So what of the sculptor who does not allow his public sculpture to be photographed, well now think about it, if no photos are allowed, controversy begins, it becomes a hot topic for the press and "BINGO" we have more advertising than one can pay for. Everyone wants to see the work of art than can't be photographed! The ensuing lawsuits have potential to bring in large amounts of revenue, one word "Greed".

I will say that it is common courtesy when attending a sculpture show to ask the sculptor if it is alright to take a photo of his or her work. Most sculptors who are secure in what they do will allow photographs, they know all to well that what they are doing probably has already been done, they just have a new twist on an old theme.

Museums on the other hand are a different story, they have valid reason for no photography. Security; museums often have works of art in the millions of dollars and they want to keep the museum security and layout knowledge to a bare minimum. Flash Damage; even though you are taking a photo of a sculpture there might be painting or textile nearby and photo flashes often produce harmful UV properties adversely affecting those works of art. Here again it is always good policy to ask before whipping out the trusty digital or cell phone and snapping a quick photo.

Someone want a photo of my sculpture! Drop me a line I'll make sure you get one.

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