Was It A Damage To The Painting Or A Collaborative Work?
When a private collector lent a 1977 work of art created by Arthur Köpcke – a 20th century artist to Nuremberg’s Neues Museum, little did the two expect it to be at the center of a legal and artistic controversy. The bizarre incident happened when a 90 year old woman mistakenly began to fill out the crossword like artwork and later with a legal notice claimed a copyright on this “newly” created collaborative work.
The visitor in question is a retired dentist – Hannelore K. who along with other pensioners visited the gallery last month. On the discovery of these additions when the woman was later questioned for about half an hour by the police, she mentioned that the reason she started to fill out the puzzle was because it was accompanied by the words “Insert Words” and “so it suits.”
The pensioner further claimed that as she understands the English language perfectly well and that was the language used in the puzzle, she took it as a serious invitation to fill in the blank squares. She further went on to say that if the visitors weren’t intended to follow the instructions, a disclaimer or a warning needed to be put up alongside the work.
The additions she made to the artwork were done with a ball point pen and have since been removed through elaborate conservation measures even as the pensioner and her actions are being investigated by the police. Her lawyer, now has come up with a detailed and intense seven page rebuttal against the accusations of damage to property against her.
The argument presented says that it is due to her actions that the hitherto less known work by Köpcke came into limelight and has since gained popularity. Additionally it is due to the changes she made to the painting that the worth of the work has actually enhanced and gone up.
The lawyer further claims that the additions she made to the painting actually makes her, Hannelore K. a collaborator in the work, thus earning her copyrights for the work. It is by this argument that he claims that the gallery can technically be sued for damaging the “newly” created work by restoring it to the previous condition.
It is also claimed further that in the additions that she made to the work by Köpcke, Frau K. has in fact adhered to the true spirit of the artist and to the Fluxus movement that he belonged to. Fluxus art in fact would typically involve the viewer, which in a bizarre manner was exactly what happened in case of Hannelore K.