Objects of Art; Objects of Property

9 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017

Date Written: September 11, 2017


Seemingly worlds apart, art and the law of property in fact share much in common. Some of this shared space is obvious, the result of their intersection through property law's protection and regulation of art. But another aspect of their commonality is considerably less obvious. Both rely, implicitly and in ways not always acknowledged, on assumptions about objects in the world-thing-ness. That is, both have relied, or traditionally have done so, on certain assumptions about the nature of objects-the objects of art and the objects of property-and the upshot of those assumptions is that those objects are characterized by thing-ness, i.e., physicality, tangibility, stability, durability. Further, these assumptions are not only parallel to each realm but intersect with each other in functional ways. Notably, property law's interaction with art depends upon art's assumption of its own thing-ness, for property law itself traditionally has depended upon certain assumptions regarding the nature of property-what can be property. It has assumed that art is a tangible, stable, and durable object.

Keywords: art; property law, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Gregory S., Objects of Art; Objects of Property (September 11, 2017). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-39, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3035436

Gregory S. Alexander (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-3504 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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