Spring 2014

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Katherine Hauser


“Every work of art is an uncommitted crime.” -Theodore Wiesengrund Adorno, Minima Moralia

While art and law are seemingly unrelated, the above quote represents how the two fields are in fact directly connected. The quote hints at an artwork’s ability to disrupt the status quo, reflecting how art is a threatening and dangerous medium that can challenge authority. Undoubtedly, art has power. Because all lawsuits are inherently power struggles, analyzing art through a legal lens reveals power dynamics within both the art community and society at large. The interdisciplinary field of study identified as “art law” deals with the many legal concerns pervading the art world. Examining art law illuminates both persistent and changing power structures, along with shifts in cultural attitudes overtime. On a global scale, art law cases illustrate how art possesses tremendous universal importance and is treasured by all of humanity. Although the course is organized thematically, divided into different weekly and bi-weekly units, major themes and concepts, like identity politics, increased globalization, technological advancements, and capitalism, are largely interrelated and recurring. The course units are: The Art Market, International Law, Art Crime, Freedom of Expression, Copyright Law, and Conservation.


Note: Access to this thesis is restricted to Skidmore community.