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  #1  
Old 09-11-2007, 07:02 PM
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Massive sculpture removed under court order

Is this a sculpture or a structure? The court rules that it is the latter.

Under court order, Fairfield couple removes massive sculpture

September 11, 2007, FAIRFIELD, Conn. - An 82-foot-long sculpture has been removed from a couple's yard after the state Supreme Court ruled that it was big enough to be considered a structure.

Andrew J. and Christine Hall had "Etroits sont les Vaisseaux," or "Narrow are the Vessels," lifted in 17 sections from their yard Monday. It weighed an estimated 40 tons and was carted away on flatbed trucks. ....

The flap started about four years ago, when they installed the concrete, steel and lead sculpture by German artist Anselm Kiefer. It resembles a series of waves with an open book in the middle and symbolizes how destruction in history repeats itself.

The Halls did not seek Historic District Commission approval for the sculpture because they didn't believe it was a structure. The commission sued them in Bridgeport Superior Court.

A Superior Court judge ruled against the Halls in 2005. They appealed and the state Supreme Court ruled that the sculpture was a structure because it was affixed to the ground. The Halls were ordered to either remove it or seek a certificate of appropriateness from the commission.

Town Attorney Richard Saxl said the Halls could have applied for the certificate rather than removing the sculpture. .....


These pictures below of the sculpture are from another source.



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Old 09-11-2007, 08:06 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Well, I cannot believe that anyone who could afford a Kieffer would lose in court...there still hope afterall.
I am a HUGE fan of this mans paintings, changed my life for sure. But since he's been trying to enrubble the sculpture scene with these intentionally demolished, contrived catastrohes I have lost some respect for him...his PAINTINGS are better sculptures than his sculptures. He does a real good 2 1/2 D...but not three.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:16 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Hi, I agree with everything Evaldart said and would just like to add that his paintings are fantastic!
Have a nice day,
Jeff
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  #4  
Old 09-11-2007, 11:25 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

In the two pictures in post #1, the sculpture does look like a pile of unsightly discarded concrete rubble.

To check on this further, I found from this link a picture when the sculpture was shown in a Gallery.

It looks only slightly better. We can now see the wave form. Still, I don't see what is so special about it, do you?

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Last edited by Merlion : 09-12-2007 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:42 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

I must beg to differ with the above opinions . . .

Kiefer's works -- whether 2D, 2ĹD, or 3D <grin> -- have always impressed me as a sculptor. (seriously, no grin)

I find myself wondering how can anyone draw a line between the works he does (except in jest?). I grant you there are some of his pieces I like better than others (i.e., perhaps I should say "some are more powerful than others" as my criteria for 'liking' them), but have you ever seen his 'jet airplane' sculpture? It is crude (in terms of an accurate model) but at fifteen or so feet long sitting on the floor in the middle of a gallery it makes quite a sculptural impact.

Another piece that 'impacted' my sensibilities was a 'book' that was several feet wide (presented on a large vitrine-enclosed pedestal). The 'book' was 'opened' to a page with all sorts of applied textures (and objects) were substituted for the 'text.' And this is but one of many 'books' he has made. If not sculpture, what do you call a 'book' that size that is made with 3D materials?

I must say the most powerful piece of his that I've ever experienced was a 'painting' that was in the Venice Biennale a few years back. The painting was installed in one room and it quite literally filled the room -- there was only about a four foot wide section of floor for the viewer to walk upon when entering the doorway to the room. The 'painting' was as wide as the room (perhaps 25 feet?) and as tall as the ceiling (perhaps 20 feet?), and there were cracks in the 'mud' on the surface of the painting that were at least 18-inches deep that I could put my hand into. Fully 3D objects such as foot-wide ceramic pots were embedded-in and protruding-from the 'mud' that covered the surface of the 'painting.' The viewer could not see the whole thing except from less than four feet away. Seems to me that just because one could not walk around it did not make it a 'painting' except in quotes . . .

I grant you that until I saw his work 'in-the-flesh' in that exhibit I had not been overly impressed by his work as seen in rather sumptuous 'coffee-table' books I had checked out of the library. But seeing the actual pieces (as so often is the case) literally makes all the difference in the world in experiencing and understanding of them.

I cannot help but think that this very issue is one of the worst disservices provided by both the wonders of the internet and well-stocked libraries ó as great as they are ó and ó as the invaluable resource(s) they represent, they are still are simply no substitute for being in the physical presence of the real thing. The 'painting' I described above was pictured in the exhibit catalog, but the viewer could never 'experience' or 'see' the painting as pictured on the page. The feeling of being right-up against this immense landscape of a surface ó with no way to back-up and see the whole thing in one's field-of-vision ó is how one experiences sculpture, not paintings . . . an so to turn-around the tongue-in-cheek observation of the comic-strip character Andy Capp: there was nothing to back-up and bump-into except the limits of the room itself.

As a sculptor I cannot say that Kiefer is on my top-twenty list of favorite artists (though I do not speak for my wife), but I do consider him to be a damn sight better sculptor than many (MANY, MANY, MANY) who profess to be called by that moniker (myself and present company excluded, of course). <big grin>

As far as the piece above being classed as a structure by the authorities, well, didn't the US Customs officials rule Brancusi's bronze BIRD IN SPACE as a simply a piece of metal rather than 'ART' and so subject to tariff when entering the country way back in 1912?
[BTW - Brancusi IS on my top 20 list]

Don

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**Andy Capp's definition of sculpture:
"Something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting."
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Old 09-12-2007, 04:52 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Don is exactly right about "experiencing" the work...especially something as physical as Kieffers. I have had the good fortune of standing in front of almost everything he has put into NYC since his MOMA retrospective in 89 (first time I saw his work in person...and was blown away) However, I have been left wanting by those concrete things. And believe me, I wanted to like them - in painting I can see him battling in the studio, a true warrior, but I don't want to see Cranes and giant forklifts associated with Anselm Kieffer - the expressionism suffers under the detachment (in a way that work such as Serra'a or DiSuvero's does not). I feel his passion in the ravaged lanscapes and his studies of guilt by his treatment of history through the use of ravaged books - but in my mind he never quite made it to "Sculptor"...perhaps he thought that all you had to do was enlist excessively heavy and difficult material,and that would do it. But it is ruined by the non-objectivity (not his forte at all in other work)...rendered debris. I have knocked on a lot of big heavy stuff (in evaluation as you would a melon) and there was no particular satisfaction in knocking on these concrete things. But thats just me...Kieffer is one of the most influential artists living and will continue filling huge museum spaces with huge things to the delight of everyone for years to come.
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Old 09-12-2007, 06:21 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlion
Is this a sculpture or a structure? The court rules that it is the latter.
The flap started about four years ago, when they installed the concrete, steel and lead sculpture by German artist Anselm Kiefer. It resembles a series of waves with an open book in the middle and symbolizes how destruction in history repeats itself.

The Halls did not seek Historic District Commission approval for the sculpture because they didn't believe it was a structure. The commission sued them in Bridgeport Superior Court.

A Superior Court judge ruled against the Halls in 2005. They appealed and the state Supreme Court ruled that the sculpture was a structure because it was affixed to the ground. The Halls were ordered to either remove it or seek a certificate of appropriateness from the commission.

Town Attorney Richard Saxl said the Halls could have applied for the certificate rather than removing the sculpture.
Could it be they pissed off some people on the commission that consider themselves the art arbitrators of art taste in the community. By not getting their opinions first. Or that lead is now a hazardous waste material that requires immediate remedial clean up to protect community. Or Just a case of the neighbors sick of untrimmed weeds around the base were it meets the ground.
And the last bit by the town attorney, they must not wanted it in the yard any longer. Since they never tried to get approval before removing it.
It appears to be screw with the neighbors and town council.IMHO
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  #8  
Old 09-12-2007, 10:09 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

I wonder if I'm gonna get busted for having a dozen or so of my metal sculptures in front of my house. It could be called an unlicensed out door gallery.
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  #9  
Old 09-12-2007, 12:51 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

[quote=Merlion]In the two pictures in post #1, the sculpture does look like a pile of unsightly discarded concrete rubble.

It looks only slightly better. We can now see the wave form. Still, I don't see what is so special about it, do you?

QUOTE]

You need to go to Contemporary Art Re-education and Sensativity Camp.

In the immortal words of the prison warden, " You gotta get yer mind right,
Luke!"

( Practrice this mantra: " It's not rubble, it's art...it's not rubble, it's art...it's not rubble, it's art... )
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:01 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Quote:
( Practrice this mantra: " It's not rubble, it's art...it's not rubble, it's art...it's not rubble, it's art... )
Almost right...how about "its art not a structure...its art not a structure". Then we need to go beyond the state supreme court so that the ultimate question can be asked,"can a structure be art, or can art be a structure?" Of course we all know what art is, just what the heck is a structure?
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:08 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Personally, I like Keifer, and while I have never actually seen any of these concrete pieces, I am willing to withold judgement til I see one in person, even though they do look pretty wan compared to his paintings and assemblages, and his lead books, and other sculptures I have seen.

But to me, the real point here is not whether or not you like this particular sculpture- its the precedent being set that says if a sculpture is made of certain materials, or is a certain size, its no longer a sculpture.

I think this is a very dangerous precedent- obviously, this is not a building- it was not meant to shelter people, enclose space, provide living or working areas, or keep the rain out- its clearly a sculpture, whether its a good, bad, or indifferent one.

And for the government to treat it like a building, and require it meet the zoning requirements of a building, thats a bad thing for all sculptors. Whats next- insulation requirements? plans approved by the building department? colors must match the Covenants of the neighborhood?

There are all kinds of silly, or not so silly, rules that buildings must obey. Its ludicrous to expect sculptures to meet those codes and restrictions.

I know this incident happened in one of the most expensive and exclusive neighborhoods in the world, where a $2 million dollar house is a teardown, and it has a lot to do with the affectations of the mega rich, but its still a very bad precedent in my book.
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Old 09-12-2007, 04:18 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

I'm beginning to think that " Is it art? " is the wrong question. I think a better question is " Is it worthy of aclaim? "
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Old 09-12-2007, 05:14 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennT
I'm beginning to think that " Is it art? " is the wrong question. I think a better question is " Is it worthy of aclaim? "
Is probably more to the point.
And since It they never even asked about a permit before having it hauled away. It probably was a pissing match between two of the artsy fartsy con-O-sewers. They probably didn't what it there anyway
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Old 09-12-2007, 09:09 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

[quote=GlennT]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlion
In the two pictures in post #1, the sculpture does look like a pile of unsightly discarded concrete rubble.

It looks only slightly better. We can now see the wave form. Still, I don't see what is so special about it, do you?
QUOTE]

You need to go to Contemporary Art Re-education and Sensativity Camp. ...
LOL! I don't know this artist nor seen his other works. What I wrote is my objective view based on the 3 pictures I found and posted. I stand by this view, but I stand corrected if there are better pictures giving me good insights into this massive sculpture.

As for you, Glenn, apparently you have got yourself in awe by the name of the artist. Look at this sculpture objectively. What if this work is smaller, and by an unknown artist?
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Last edited by Merlion : 09-13-2007 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 09-13-2007, 08:34 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

To quote from the movie , This is Spinal Tap , " There is a fine line between genius and a really stupid idea "

Merlion: In as much as I had never heard of this guy before seeing your post, methinks you have either confused me with someone else who posted here, or my attempts at humor have fallen by the wayside.

Rather than being in awe of the artist's name, I am in awe of the lengths some are willing to go to defend a pile of literally rubble, just because someone with a "name" ( apparently ) has arranged the rubble 'just so'.
On the other hand, it could just be a case of proffessional jealousy because I don't make big bucks when I throw out the garbage at my own home, let alone on some rich person's yard.
One precedence this might set could be more difficulty in removing rubble after a bomb blast if Islamic terrorists were to get smart and call their misdeeds " performance art ".

Okay, enough sarcasm from me. Back to the sanctity of construction debris and the fabulous evolution of art resulting therefrom...

Last edited by GlennT : 09-13-2007 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 09-13-2007, 12:12 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Merlion,
Thank you very much for initiating this interesting dialogue. I do hope that people will refrain from sarcastic, personal comments and stick to the much more useful exchange of ideas that makes this type of thread so useful.
One bottom line is that the value of this sculpture has probably been raised due to the controversy. But the situation does raise the question of whether this debacle would have happened somewhere else? Say Europe or Asia or Australia or anywhere else?
The other day my husband Egils showed me an essay by photographer Mike Johnston called "Creative Livings". Its premise deals with the struggles of artists in the United States in making a living. But one comment from the essay says, "...That's not to say that the nation, and society, has no need for artists. Far from it - in this country, which is fundamentally hostile to art, we need more artists, not fewer."
That "hostility" he refers to could also be characterized as a lack of openness, resistance to new visual concepts, suspicion towards that which doesn't conform to established parameters, and so on.
It is surprising that the Halls would not stand up for their own choice of art, after all, they must have invested quite a bit in purchasing it and having it installed. But I am wondering if the scenario would have been different if this same sculpture were installed on private property in some other part of the world?
JAZ
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Old 09-13-2007, 03:53 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

I think it depends on how much of a "nanny state" you live in.
Kiefer himself has refused to live in Germany for something like 20 years now, partly because of German rules and regulations.
And in many parts of Germany, where even your shutters and railings must, by law, be historically accurate, I have no doubt that very similar things would happen, unless the piece was being shown by a museum or a government sponsored show like Documenta.

In other parts of the world, nobody much would care- and that includes where I live- I routinely leave large sculptures in my front lawn, and the county building department could care less. But I chose my location not for exclusivitiy or cachet, but precisely because there are no neighbors closer than about a mile away.

I dont think this is a national attitude- in many parts of the USA, you can proudly display your collection of nonworking cars in your front yard, while in other areas, you must mow your lawn, by law. It just depends where you live.
Many other countries are more liberal about private property, while some, including places like Japan and northern european countries, are much more strict.

But in many countries, especially in europe, artists, and their artworks, have clear legal rights, and if something is clearly a sculpture, as this is, then it would not be treated as a building, which it is clearly not. This is more a case of neighbors manipulating a malleable building department than an example of a national attitude towards sculpture.
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Old 09-13-2007, 08:11 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Well I've got about 50 sculptures out on my property (1 acre)...at least a dozen are between 12 and 18 feet high, some are bigger and heavier than cars. Never got any notice from them whatsoever...good or bad. My nieghbors doorsteps are a couple hundred feet away.

As far as the Kieffer, I bet its all got to do with people with too much money, throwing wieght around, someone with nothing better to do than be a pain in the ass.

I think I saw that thing at Gagosian (guess it coulda been one just like it) so you know it was pricey. More expensive than a Rodin.

I don't think this country is too hostile to artists - actually the artists are probably more hostile to the country. Its been a long time and I heve'nt had to resolve to one of my "plan-B"'s yet (bar owner, Gym owner, professional wrestler). They been treating me allright - but it could be better (my own fault I suppose).
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Old 09-13-2007, 09:35 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Quote:
" in a historic distric"
Mistake #1 was assuming they could install an 82 foot long 40 ton anything in a historic district without a permit or approval in some form. Some of these places even dictate what COLOR your garbage cans must be and that you can't park your own RV or pickup truck in YOUR driveway.

Quote:
In the two pictures in post #1, the sculpture does look like a pile of unsightly discarded concrete rubble.
It certainly does, it looks like someone demolished an old shed, mill building or retaining wall that sat there and then forgot to haul away the rubble, that is what I would think if I drove past and noticed it.

The crazy thing is calling it a structure, traditionally this means a BUILDING or utility item like a water tower structure.
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:26 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

In some building codes structure can mean anything constructed. Which gives the local ticket/ summons writers broad sway in collecting monies for the city/town ect. These include parking snubbers/bumpers, rock walls fences.
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Old 09-14-2007, 07:46 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

<Well I've got about 50 sculptures out on my property (1 acre)...at least a dozen are between 12 and 18 feet high, some are bigger and heavier than cars. Never got any notice from them whatsoever...good or bad. My nieghbors doorsteps are a couple hundred feet away.>

I have to take a slight difference of opinion with Ries and Evaldart. I live in small city in a state that has a reputation of being notoriously backward. In fact whenever there is a poll or survey of the amount of fattest people, lowest amount of high school graduates, single moms, etc we are always vying for spots #45 -50 with Alabama, Mississippi, etc.

I live in a historic district which has some rules (actually set into law) about what type of additions can be made, if the changes are in character for the area, etc. I can put as many sculptures as I want up in my yard on as many concrete pedestals as long as they are all for sale. That means the sculptures are of a temporary nature. If they are part of a personal collection there is an onerous process to go through to make sure that the sculptures can stay up. I do though have commercial zoning. If I did not have commercial zoning there would be a true zoning issue to contend with.

After looking at the style of house and knowing that the town that removed the sculpture had zoning, I am not surprised that the sculpture was removed. This sculpture did not conform to the typical notion of what art was. In addition, the neighbors have a perfect opportunity to exercise their right of free speech to protect the value of their "historic home". The neighbors have no way of knowing that the pile of concrete is by a well known, brand name artist. All the townspeople know is that in their eyes, the value of their land can go down from a pile of concrete lying helter-skelter in a yard.

This argument is roughly analogous to all the opposition to putting up wind farms. It is generally conceded that America needs more renewable energy. Wind energy is renewable and for the most part clean energy. People object to the sight lines to the scenery being obstructed, even though the obstruction is not on their personal property. Generally when people object to wind farms they get canceled even though the wind farm would be of benefit to them.

Who is right?

Carl
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:28 PM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

Living in a neighborhood that has CC&R's I know first hand not to piss off the powers to be. I have done it and lived to regret it. If they like the sculpture that much why didn't they just play by the rules? How much effort does it take to fill out an application? Perhaps they already knew the answer and felt like a pity party before they donated the work of art. By the looks of the house they aren't in the poor house. Not yet any way. It may be a fine sculpture but the sitting was not the best choice for the piece.
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:11 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

I like Kiefer's sculptures, especially the glass and lead ones. As for definitive judgement about an artist, it's funny to hear so much immediate judgement in galleries and exhibitions when I visit these: "I don't like it", "His paintings are better than his sculptures", etc... Last time for the Monumenta at the Grand Palais in Paris (Kiefer latest big exhibition in France), plenty of comments like these could be overheard.

It takes one good piece to love an artists' work, because otherwise, often the works provoke only disgust or lack of response.

But we're never going to lack immediate comments "I like it, I don't like it" etc...
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:14 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

one example of such sculpture, better when in front of course, due to the monumentality of the work
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:02 AM
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Re: Massive sculpture removed under court order

An interesting legal dilemma here. Many Henry Moore sculptures around the world are bigger than than this, as are many Serra pieces. I presume the courts arenít getting involved in the aesthetic assessment of this piece, which may look out of place, for some, in that garden, with its mock classical architecture, and middle class /wealthy environs.

Itís interesting to see a work like this being set in this context, given that itís the antithesis of its setting.

Last edited by Cantab : 09-17-2007 at 09:15 AM.
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