Daubism: Copyright Law and Artistic Works

Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Vol. 9, No. 4, December 2002

21 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2020

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)


An artistic controversy over a group of landscape painters called the Daubists provided impetus for copyright law reform in Australia in the early 1990's.

In the first exhibition of Daubism in 1991 driller Jet Armstrong painted a crop circle over a painting of the Olgas by Charles Bannon - an artist, print-maker, and the father of the State Premier at the time, John Bannon. He called the resulting work, Crop Circles on a Bannon Landscape. Armstrong also inserted an inverted crucifix over a painting of the Flinders Ranges by Bannon, and renamed the work The Crop Circle Conspiracy Landscape. In response, Bannon took legal action against Armstrong in the Federal Court of Australia on the grounds of false attribution and defamation. He won an interlocutory injunction against Armstrong and the gallery, but then reached a settlement with the Daubists. An anonymous buyer purchased the work for $650 on the condition that it was returned to the painter. In his fight against the Daubists, Bannon received help and support from the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). This professional group used the controversy to campaign for the reform of copyright law - in particular, the need for a moral rights regime.

The artistic controversy over the Daubists was a catalyst for the introduction of the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000 (Cth) in Australia. It offers an illuminating case study of the operation of copyright law in the visual arts.

Keywords: Copyright law, artistic works, economic rights, moral rights, defamation law, right of resale, romanticism, situationism, dada, post-modernism

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Daubism: Copyright Law and Artistic Works. Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Vol. 9, No. 4, December 2002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=600864

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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