As Kevin Ray, a legal expert in the field of cultural assets, notes, there’s a popular saying that bad artists imitate, but great artists steal. In the contemporary art world, the act of using some or all of another artist’s (or musician’s or author’s) work in the process of making your own new work is usually described as “appropriation.”
For his Assembly Series presentation, “What’s Fair: Street Art, Appropriation Art, and the Law,” Ray will draw on recent high-profile cases involving works by the artists Jeff Koons and Richard Price to illustrate how the courts try to parse out an objective decision based largely on subjective considerations; to decide, in effect, whether the work in question was stolen or whether it conformed to the “fair use” law.
Ray serves as counsel for the international law firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP, and his practice focuses on two broad areas: art and cultural heritage law, and financial services law. For the former, Ray represents and advises artists, art galleries, art collectors, museums and cultural institutions in a variety of transactions, including consignments, questions of title, provenance, and compliance with national and international law. In addition, he advises on issues unique to art, antiquities and other cultural property in a variety of lending and commercial transactions.
Prior to practicing law, Ray served as director of rare books, manuscripts and art collections for the University Libraries at Washington University in St. Louis, and taught at the university’s School of Art, now part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, and his J.D. and PhD from Washington University. In 2014, Ray earned his LL.M. in international art and cultural heritage law from DePaul University College of Law.
His presentation is also for the School of Law’s Public Interest Law & Policy Speaker Series, and is co-sponsored by the Whitney Harris World Law Institute.
Read Ray’s posts on the Cultural Assets blog