- Michaelangelo's Creation of Sun and Moon
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with an introduction to creditable and well-known resources for conducting art law research. Given the expansive nature of this field of law, this guide is selective in nature.
It is not exhaustive in the materials available; however, it focuses on general resources on art law, rather than tailoring the sources to specific subjects, such as trademark or First Amendment.
Though this guide focuses mainly on U.S. law, it does include select international materials that will help you get started with your research, if you have a need to broaden your research beyond U.S. borders.
With the permission of the author, this guide is significantly based off of Georgetown Law Library's Art Law Research Guide.
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Recent Developments in Art Litigation and Art Finance
"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." — Michelangelo - Creation of Sun and Moon
Art law is multi-dimensional. It is founded in legal theory, in historical aspects, and in complexity driven by moral concerns. The complexity of art law is addressed by Vera Zlatarski in her law review article, "Moral Rights" and Other Moral Interests: Public Art Law in France, Russia, and The United States, 23 Colum.-VLA J.L. & Arts 201 (1999-2000), when she stated:
The fabric of United States public art law is rich, and its strands many, including contract, trademark, tort, property, and takings law, First Amendment doctrine, landmarks and preservation regulations, state as well as federal moral rights statutes, and any number of political checks. It can also be envisioned as a perpetual see-saw, constantly bowing to one then another opposed interest, by definition concerned with resolving conflicts by giving different claims due recognition. Understanding the workings of the American see-saw demonstrates the dangers of tipping the balance too far on the side of the community, just as the strong version of French moral rights illustrates the problems of weighing too heavily in favor of the artist. In the end, the American recognition of a multiplicity of legitimate interests results in continued encouragement for and support of public art.
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An Introduction to Art Law
Finding a Topic
In determining what topic you want to explore, there are a myriad of ways to get started. You could survey the scene by looking through newsletters, both print and online. You could browse through art law specific blogs. Featured art law blogs feed automatically into each page of this libguide. Or you could locate books on your topic to see what has already been written about by scholars in the area. Below are a few resources to help you get started.
Once you have located a topic for your research, you might want to start with some of the following steps:
- Determine your research questions. These questions are typically legal concepts coupled with relevant facts, much like an issue statement. Your research questions should be broad enough to encompass the full layout of the law, and narrow enough to identify all the relevant issues. Developing your research questions is a dynamic process that will be modified throughout your research.
- Develop key words and topics of interest. Develop the search strategies you want to implement in your research. Ask yourself: Do you want to start with print or electroinc resources? Evaluate the benefits of both and then determine the appropriate resource.
- If you determine that starting with print resources is the best approach for your topic, you might want to look for relevant books written on your subject. You can search our books by subject. For example, here are few subject headings you might search for:
- Art -- Collectors and Collecting
- Art Thefts
- Artists -- Legal status, law, etc -- United States
- Artists' Contracts -- United States
- Copyright -- Art -- United States
- Cultural Property -- Protection
- Law and art
- Law and art -- United States
- Museums -- law and legislation -- United States
- If you determine starting your research online, you might consider the types of search queries you would look for (natural language v. terms and connectors v. table of contents browsing).
- Get help from the Reference Librarians. We are here to help you formulate your research strategy and find resources that might be useful in writing your seminar papers. Feel free to ask questions at the Reference Desk or give us a call. You can always schedule an individual appointment with one of the Reference Librarians that are profiled here on Libguides. The Reference Desk phone number is (336) 758-4520.