Introduction to the Research Handbook on Art and Law
Full access

In a book which investigates the intersections between art and law, we found this quote by Chekhov intriguing. It provoked numerous responses. Surely artists – and art – can indeed, answer questions? Even while art asks questions, it usually provides some clues to how we might respond. In curating this book, we spent much time contemplating what art does, and what law does, and more importantly what they do and can do for each other. And we were struck by the sheer number and variety of questions that circulate in the chapters of this book. Questions by, about, and of both art and law, and the society and culture they help to form, and which shape them. Both art and law pose, and we would suggest, answer questions. We are particularly interested in the reciprocal questioning and answering that can occur between art and law, and we sought in this book to harness and reveal that dynamic. This book responds to an increasing interest in the connections between visual art and law, and aims to foster a multi-faceted, international and interdisciplinary dialogue between these two fascinating territories. Traditional approaches to the interface between law and art have tended to focus on substantive areas of law that most directly deal with art, such as copyright and cultural heritage law. Or, they take a generalist area of law and target its specific application to art, such as art and freedom of expression. Sometimes they examine the interface between the law and particular genres of art, such as graffiti, or art in particular legal contexts, such as famous art trials. There is other scholarship engaging generally with the very broad topic of ‘Art and the Law’, however this tends to be jurisdiction-specific, and functions more as descriptions of the numerous laws with potential application to art, and as guides for practitioners or artists.