Danh Vo with his installation I M U U R 2 (2013) in the exhibition 9 Artists at the Walker Art center. © Gene Pittman
Danh Vo says he will appeal a court ruling made yesterday, 24 June, that orders the Danish-Vietnamese artist to create a “large and impressive” installation for the Dutch collector and entrepreneur Bert Kreuk within a year.
The Rotterdam court upheld Kreuk’s claim that Vo agreed in January 2013 to produce one or more new works for Kreuk’s exhibition, Transforming the Known, at the Hague’s Gemeentemuseum, and that the work would be acquired by the collector after the show.
Before the exhibition opened in June 2013, Vo sent an existing work, Fiat Veritas, a cardboard box marked with gold leaf. The sculpture was provided under a signed loan agreement between the artist and the Gemeentemuseum, according to Vo’s lawyer, Gert-Jan van den Bergh.
However, Kreuk said the agreement had been for Vo to create a new work for his collection, expressing a preference for the artist’s large-scale Budweiser and American Flag series. Kreuk filed the lawsuit in September 2014. The collector also took out an injunction that prevented Fiat Veritas being returned to Vo. The Rotterdam court ruled on 24 June that Kreuk must return the sculpture to the artist.
Kreuk will pay up to $350,000 for the new work, which must be completed by 24 June 2016 and delivered to Galerie Bortolozzi by 8 July 2016, according to the court papers. In her ruling the judge said: “Although [Vo] has artistic freedom, he will have to talk to Kreuk about the design of the work,” adding that the piece should be “large and impressive”. If he does not meet the deadlines, Vo must pay €10,000 a day, with a cap of €350,000. The court ruled that no damages are payable to Kreuk.
Vo says he does not want to produce a new work for Kreuk. “I will appeal the decision on the shortest possible notice,” Vo says. “I believe that my artistic integrity has been violated by the court, ordering me to produce a ‘large and impressive work’ for Kreuk. I am happy that Kreuk’s seizure of my work, Fiat Veritas, at the museum has been lifted.” Van den Bergh describes the ruling as unprecedented in Dutch legal history.
Kreuk says: “My claim for compliance is fully honoured, which is what I wanted. This is a matter of principle for me—everybody has to abide by an agreement.”