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Joseph Beuys

Beuys widow wins in court over contested performance piece pictures

Museum Schloss Moyland lose out again in appeals court

The ongoing legal battle between Eva Beuys, the widow of the artist Joseph Beuys, and the Museum Schloss Moyland intensified last month when an appeals court in Düsseldorf upheld a previous German court decision in Eva Beuys’s favour. A Düsseldorf regional court ruled in September 2010 that the museum had breached copyright and cannot display a series of photographs by Manfred Tischer taken of Joseph Beuys during a 1960s performance.

“The museum is still not allowed to show the photographs by Tischer. Our lawyer has called for an appeal at the federal high court but this hasn’t been finalised yet,” says a spokeswoman for the museum. However, following the refurbishment of the museum last August, one of Tischer’s photographs is still on display. “This photograph is on show, until March 2012, in spite of the court ruling,” says the spokeswoman. The museum in North Rhine-Westphalia faces a potential fine of €250,000 if it redisplays the photographs.

Eva Beuys began legal proceedings following a 2009 exhibition at the museum that included 19 of Tischer’s images (The Art Newspaper, November 2010, p13). These photographs document the 1964 work Das Schweigen von Marcel Duchamp ist überbewertet (Marcel Duchamp’s silence is overrated), which Beuys performed during a German television show. Tischer’s photographs are the only visual record. Beuys gave his permission to take photographs but had not, it is claimed, authorised their display. The disputed images are part of the museum’s 6,000-strong Beuys collection.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Beuys widow wins in court over contested pictures'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 232 February 2012