Tuesday 24 July 2012

New Australian art law?

If the latest art news from Australia is anything to go by, it seems that new legislation may shortly be introduced to protect international artworks which have been loaned to Australian galleries from seizure in the event of an ownership dispute.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

...[T]he Arts Minister, Simon Crean, said yesterday: ''The new legislation will guarantee the return to the lender of cultural objects such as paintings, drawings, sculptures, textiles, stamps and coins, which are brought to Australia on loan for temporary public exhibition.''
Without it, he said, Australians might have been denied the opportunity to see masterpieces such as those on loan from the Prado in Madrid to the Queensland Art Gallery.
The lack of such laws has been cited by Australian collecting institutions as a barrier to negotiating loans where there is the potential for dispute about a work's ownership or ethics of acquisition.
Antiquities, indigenous artefacts and works expropriated from Jewish citizens by the Nazis, or from Russian owners by the Soviets, are among those that have become the subject of disputes internationally.
The new legislation, to be passed in the spring session of Parliament, will ''ensure that any [such] loans from overseas collections will be co-ordinated in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people'', Mr Crean said.
If there really has been a barrier to international art coming into Australia due to inadequate legal standards, the proposed legislation may be a welcomed change. It remains to be seen whether such a change will actually make a difference to Australian galleries.
Les baigneuses by Pablo Picasso - exhibited in
the Art Gallery of New South Wales
between 12 Nov 2011 - 25 Mar 2012
 on loan from the Musée National Picasso, Paris

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 2012

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