Il restauro nell’arte contemporanea: la prospettiva del diritto
Abstract: Contemporary visual art is challenging traditional law in the areas of both copyright law and property or contract law. This emerges clearly in the conservation-restoration of contemporary artworks where artists’ moral rights are called into play. The act of restoring an artwork is inevitably connected to its identity, and whenever the law struggles to identify this identity, the legal limits of restoration also remain unclear. The issue is even more complex in a comparative law perspective, given the difference between the US Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) which provides for weak protection of artists’ moral rights, and the French-based European regulations which recognise author protection within the broader context of the fundamental rights of personal identity. This paper focuses on the legal aspects of restoration of a permanent artwork, as opposed to restoration of artworks destined for decay or destruction. Both cases call for interpretation of moral rights, either when an artwork is restored in the absence of, or against, the artist’s wishes, or when restoration interferes with the artist’s intention to leave the artwork to decay or self-destruct. It is proposed that this potential conflict be resolved through introduction of legislation incorporating artists’ instructions for restoration of artworks, and registration of identity.