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New York Law Journal Publishes Kearns on Landlords' Concerns About Art Installations Under VARA

June 30, 2014

The New York Law Journal (subscription required) featured an article authored by Thomas Kearns on the federal Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) and its legal implications for property owners. VARA protects artists' "moral rights" by prohibiting the destruction of "visual art," including paintings, drawings, sculptures or photographs, of "recognized stature."  The article notes the key part for landlords is that VARA recognizes and protects works of visual art that have been "incorporated in or made part of a building in such a way that removing the work from the building will cause the destruction, distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work."  The article discusses ways for landlords to protect against VARA liability for art that has been “incorporated in or made a part of a building” and considers circumstances in which VARA may protect work that is not obviously art when first installed such as graffiti and commercial signage, art that Tom calls “surprise art”. 

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