Articles

In Murals' Corner

Date: May 17, 2012

Art preservation is tricky even under ideal circumstances, which generally involve close controls for light, temperature, humidity and other hazards. Eliminate those and you have some idea of the challenge that street-mural preservation faces...

The 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act—established to "prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification" of works that would be prejudicial to an artist's "honor or reputation"—for the first time offered mural artists some discretion over works they did not directly own. This does not override the property owner's prerogatives, but provides mechanisms for notification if the work is going to be removed or its appearance altered. These federal rights "extend only to living artists," according to Ann Garfinkle, counsel at Whiteford, Taylor, Preston, and so would not have applied to Siqueiros, who died in 1974. Fortunately, says Ms. Garfinkle, California previously established a more extensive state version of the legislation, granting rights that extend to an artist's descendants. …