Last month, a 91-year-old puzzle enthusiast took it upon herself to fill in a piece of crossword art hanging in the Neues Museum in Nuremberg, Germany. The museum certainly wasn’t pleased that the 1977 artwork by Fluxus artist Arthur Köpcke, worth about $89,000, had been defaced. The retiree is arguing that she created a new work with her eager scribbling, and now owns the copyright, according to Ars Technica UK.
The crossword puzzle in question, one of Köpcke's reading-work pieces, bore instructions in English urging the viewer to “insert words.” The woman argued that she just did as instructed. A German newspaper reports that her lawyer has submitted a seven-page brief arguing that the defacement caused no permanent damage (the pen marks have been removed) and in fact, increased the value of the work, considering the subsequent news coverage. The art was on loan to the museum from a private collector.
Furthermore, the retired dentist points out that her actions were true to the spirit of the art. The avant-garde Fluxus movement was centered around the idea that museums don’t have the authority to determine what is and isn’t art, and encouraged everyone to produce art. Fluxus artists often drew audience members into their performances, harnessing viewers to participate in completing the piece. In fact, the retiree’s lawyer has said the owner of the piece could sue because the removal of the crossword answers "destroyed" the new work.
[h/t Ars Technica UK]
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