Art, Actually! The Courts and the Imposition of Taste

Marett Leiboff

Abstract


Despite their attempt to avoid questions of taste, this article argues that the courts actively engage in a form of connoissuership. For the most part, this involves the courts rendering images into component elements which alters the image or object, in order to acheive a particular legal outcome. By drawing on the history of the 18th century connoisseur, the article suggests that the courts display many of the features of the connoissuer, even when they disavow any involvement in issues of quality. But sometimes surprising results can occur when the courts, without perhaps realising it, engage in judging about art, as occured in the 2006 decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court involving the Archibald Prize.

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