Too bad that on Oct. 5 the Supremes passed on applying a due process determination to define the “recognized stature” of art. The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA”) gave visual artists limited “moral rights” in their creations. The primary right is one of “integrity,” or preventing the alteration or destruction of a copyrighted visual artwork. Artists, after all, suffer a blow to their reputation when their creations are removed or destroyed. Further, those of a decided secular, and especially European, mindset for generations substituted artistic enthusiasm for religious fervor. Top artists were viewed as merging their personas with their works. Destroying art killed a piece of a sensitive soul.
Conservatives such as C.S. Lewis and Paul Johnson, though, traced the point at which Western civilization began declining to the point at which art no longer depicted nature. The tacit observation was that a society abandoning objective standards for subjective tastes is a society in decline. Real property owners, either later purchasers of the property or disappointed commissioners, sometimes later wish to have visual art such as mosaics removed. Society’s tastes ineluctably shift with time. Continue Reading