Judgment under advisement in the copyright infringement case between artists Daniel Druet and Maurizio Cattelan was delivered Friday afternoon, July 8th.
The judges composing the 3e chamber of the Paris court had to settle an unprecedented dispute in the field of contemporary art: who was the author of eight works imagined by a conceptual artist, but shaped by a wax sculptor, as far as the characters are concerned. The magistrates judged the inadmissibility of the action brought by Daniel Druet. The French sculptor claimed the exclusive paternity of these sculptures made at the request of Maurizio Cattelan and his Parisian gallery between 1999 and 2006, without taking into account the approach of the Italian artist as a whole nor his artistic interventions in various contexts which made him famous.
The hearing for this trial was held on May 13 in Paris, sparking numerous debates and forums on the essence of conceptual art. The magistrates ruled on Friday that” it is not […] not disputed that the precise directives for staging the wax effigies in a specific configuration, relating in particular to their positioning within the exhibition spaces aimed at playing on the emotions of the public (surprise, empathy, amusement, repulsion, etc. ), emanated only from [Maurizio Cattelan] alone, Daniel Druet being in no way in a position – nor indeed seeking to do so – to arrogate to himself the slightest participation in the choices relating to the scenic arrangement of the presentation of the said effigies (choice of the building and the size of the rooms welcoming such a character, direction of gaze, lighting, even destruction of a glass roof or a parquet floor to make the staging more realistic and more striking) or to the content of the possible message to be conveyed through this staging. » However, Daniel Druet claimed ownership of the rights on an exclusive basis.
“This deliberation sets precedent in the definition of conceptual art in French law. It’s a historic day.”reacted to the Monde Pierre-Olivier Sur, defender of the Emmanuel Perrotin gallery. “The magistrates specify that the creation is the installation, and not just one of the parts that constitute the work, in this case a sculpture”, he continues.
It should be noted that Daniel Druet did not directly attack Maurizio Cattelan, but his Parisian gallery, the latter’s publishing house, as well as the Monnaie de Paris, where the artist had an exhibition in September 2016, “Not Afraid of Love”. In April 2018, Daniel Druet had indeed sued the Perrotin gallery and the company Turenne Editions before the Paris court for copyright infringement and counterfeiting. In the process, he also sued the Monnaie de Paris for having exhibited four of his works without mentioning his name during the exhibition, and in a third step, the Monnaie de Paris sent a registered letter to Maurizio Cattelan and to the Cattelan Archives for to request their intervention in the procedure opened by Daniel Druet, invoking the partnership contract concluded within the framework of the exhibition, which provided for a guarantee clause.
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