Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Fine Art of Customs Law

The GranneBlog has a fascinating post on a piece of customs law history relating to the tariff classification of abstract art. So, consider this an annotation to that otherwise fine post.

Given the excellent library of honest-to-goodness paper and leather books in my office, I was able to find the relevant decision, which is Brancusi v. United States, T.D. 43063 (1928). It includes a picture of the sculpture as well. Sorry for the poor scan. Keep in mind that it is a black and white photo from 1928.


Larry F. said...

Turns out that the original story was from Legal Affairs and is here.

Jim Dickeson said...

Here's a link to an image of Brancusi's "Bird in Space"

As much as I appreciate Brancusi's Bird, I can also appreciate Customs' dilemma. Essentially, one can can call just about anything "art"; but who is to decide whether it is or not? In a previous professional life, I handled the inbound freight, customs clearance and delivery to an exhibition hall for a show of contemporary art (which shall remain unnamed). Excluding, I trust, the Picasso works from his comment, the art exhibitor that had contracted me (who shall also remain unnamed) confided privately that 95% of the works at the show were pure garbage.

Jim Dickeson