By way of background, the exhibition was to include a number of sculptures by Clay which paid homage to the works of American Abstract Expressionist sculptor and painter, David Smith. Unfortunately, this was not acceptable to the Estate of David Smith. Indeed, BlouinArtInfo reports that:
When the estate became aware that Clay was planning a show including these referential works, it reached out to Clay through its copyright representative, the licensing and rights management organization VAGA.
“They demanded an accounting of the work,” said Clay, who was openly scornful of what she sees as VAGA’s interference with her artistic freedom. She added that that the organization had asked her to write a letter requesting permission to copy the Smith pieces — “as if I need permission,” she said — and explaining why she was making the work. “Basically they were bullying everyone and intimidating everyone,” she said, to prevent her pieces from being shown.In response, Clay's lawyer wrote to VAGA arguing that Clay's works were in not an infringement of Smith's works, rather they fell within the fair use provisions of US copyright law as transformative works.
Now it seems, however, that the question as to whether or not the works do infringe copyright is merely academic as the parties have come to an agreement in accordance with which Clay will not to sell the works and/or to display them with a statement acknowledging that the works are not authorised by David Smith's estate.
Academic or not, what do our readers think?
Source: BlouinArtInfo, 3 October, 2013, Art in America, 15 October, 2013