Prof. Dr. Gianmaria Ajani

Universität Turin - I

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Gianmaria Ajani erlangte 1979 seinen Doktor der Rechtswissenschaften an der Universität Turin und lehrte anschließend an verschiedenen Universitäten weltweit. So war er unter anderem Gastwissenschaftler in Moskau und Leiden sowie Gastprofessur in Berkely, Fribourg, Wuhan, Bergen und zuletzt in London. Von 1987 bis 1996 war Gianmaria Ajani Professor an der Universität Trento, wo er ab 1990 darüber hinaus als Direktor am Department of Law fungierte. 1996 folgte die Ernennung zum Professor für Vergleichende Rechtssysteme, Recht und Kunst sowie Privatrecht an der Universität Turin. Von 1998 bis 2004 war er des Weiteren Direktor der Rechtsabteilung und von 2009 bis 2013 Dekan der Rechtsfakultät. Von 2013 bis 2019 war Gianmaria Ajani Rektor der Universität Turin.

Prof. Dr. Gianmaria Ajani hat mit zahlreichen internationalen Organisationen wie dem IWF, der EU-Kommission, dem Europarat, dem UNDP, der GIZ und der IAO zusammengearbeitet und war als Rechtsexperte an verschiedenen Gesetzesreformen in China, Russland, Albanien und Vietnam beteiligt. Ebenso war er Experte der OSZE tätig, um den Dialog zwischen der ukrainischen Zentralregierung und den Krimbehörden zu erleichtern.

Er ist Autor zahlreicher Beiträge für nationale und internationale Fachzeitschriften und Mitherausgeber der Zeitschriften „Brill Research Perspectives in Art and Law“ und „Contratto e impresa/Europa“. Gianmaria Ajani besitzt einen Ehrendoktortitel der Universität Savoie Mont Blanc. Darüber hinaus ist er Honorarprofessor der Shanghai Normal University und der Zhonghan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan.

Von Oktober 2019 bis März 2020 war Prof. Dr. Gianmaria Ajani Fellow am Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Recht als Kultur“ in Bonn.


„From Property to Contract: A Proposal to Govern Some Challenges Brought to Private Law by Contemporary Visual Arts“

1. Not too many years after the “Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works” [hereinafter Berne Convention] was adopted (1886), a revolution occurred in Visual Arts; by detaching art from aesthetics, Marcel Duchamp set out a different course from the one it had been followed since the Renaissance.

An unexpected pioneer, not a lonely visionary, Duchamp was  backed up by the action of Man Ray, Picabia, Kurt Scwitters. Throughout ready-made installations,  reappropriation, parody, they called the 20th century art movements to rethink established relations between artwork and aesthetics, also opening the path to conceptual artists and their erosion of the “artwork as an object”.

2.  Far from establishing a worldwide and stable harmonization of national regulations on the matter of  Artists Rights, the Berne Convention has “frozen” artistic  action within a set of taxonomies at the very eve of their outbreak.

In fact, when confronting the classifications adopted by the Berne  Convention with the challenges brought in by contemporary artists in the first decades of 20th century, we notice right away that a set of major problems arise:

  • On one hand, its preference for a vague terminology – which characterizes the language of public international law-  far from providing a standard for global harmonization of copyright law,  has left  undefined a space, which has been  filled in by national laws and their implementation (this is, e.g., the case of the originality requirement)
  • On the other hand, the Convention fails to cope with challenges related to the transformation of  both the aesthetic canon and the methodology of artworks production (such as, e.g. hybridization). Its vertical categories are an excessive boundary, which maintains within an out-dated vertical space artistic expressions made to explicitly trespass traditional frames of visual art.

3.  Art is free and it does not bear borders or limits; Law sets out borders and limits. Wisely enough, lawmakers (both at the international and national level) refrain from providing definitions on “what is art”.

However, when artworks circulate, they activate a normative order made to rule on the patrimonial effect of the same circulation, namely property and contract law, tax law, administrative regulation. No evidence is needed anymore to recognize that “classic private law”, as well as tax laws, remain deeply affected by the “classic law paradigm”:  a field occupied by an author/subject, who is facing a world made of users-buyers.

Whenever the normative order fails to provide a clear assessment of the rules governing the transfer of artworks, conflicts arise. The identification of increasing conflicts among those actors is the evidence of how broadly “classic law” is not able anymore to provide a clear and widely accepted response to the several issues rising out from that circulation.

The loss of clear identification of the artwork/art-action as an “object”, the transformation of a “solid” artwork into a process, the evaporation of the space/time limits which contained within recognizable borders an artwork, the curtailment of curators’ rights to restore the artwork: all these examples and the related judicial conflicts provide a clear signal: “classical property law” is not able anymore to provide a predictable and  effective set of  indicators on “how to govern transfer, preservation, use, of artworks property”.

4.  Having redefined its ontological standards and blurred the borders between production and fruition, contemporary art is more “liquid” than ever.

This assumption calls for a rethinking of the role of property law in managing the circulation of artworks/art-actions; the hypothesis is that while property law is not functional any more to govern the challenges posed by some Artists, a functional response could arise from contract law.

The contract (which has been relegated to the margins of the art market),  as a binding formalization of a process negotiated between fully-informed parties, has found a new, more complex role in the artworks of some conceptual artists, who work on themes such as the promise, and the gift.  Contracts are beginning to attract more attention in areas such as public art; here, the complexity of the relationship between parties commissioning  artwork, artists and users makes the contract format a valuable means for enabling information to be shared and responsibility to be assigned.

Based on the premises here set under points 1-3, my research project aims to:

  • mapping the area of judicial responses to disputes arising from artworks/art-actions circulation
  • identifying the fields of art production where the recourse to contract law, namely to a newly established set of agreed responsibilities among the different actors of the art world, would provide a more functional approach to situations unsolved by property law
  • laying down a set of proposals aimed to expand the role of contract law in preventing disputes among the art-producers and the art-users (such as curators in  Museums, Municipalities), with particular attentions to:
    • art in public spaces
    • re-activation, maintenance and restoration of artworks

Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • G. Ajani, “Russian Liberalism and the Rule of Law: Notes from Underground”, in (R.M. Cucciolla ed.) Dimensions and Challenges of Russian Liberalism, pp. 15-26, Springer, 2019.
  • G., Ajani, S. Ferreri, “Comparative Law and Multicultural Legal Classes: Challenge or Opportunity? ”, in Annuario di diritto comparato e studi legislativi, 2018, pp. 1-25
  • G.Ajani, “Ruling by Indicators: How the Use of Vague Notions and Quantitative Indicators Facilitates Legal Change”, in Cardozo Electronic Law Bulletin, 2017, pp. 1-25.
  • G.Ajani, “Le traduzioni delle nozioni vaghe”, in The Cardozo Electronic Law Bulletin, 2017 pp.1-18.
  • G.Ajani, G. Boella, et al., “The European Taxonomy Syllabus: A multi-lingual, multi-level ontology framework to untangle the web of European legal terminology”, in Applied Ontology, 2016, pp. 325-375.
  • G.Ajani, “Il codice civile albanese,” in Annuario di diritto comaprato e studi legislativi, 2014.
  • G.Ajani, “Diritto privato europeo: nuove complessità”, in Contratto e impresa Europa, 2012, n. 1.
  • G. Ajani, Trapianto di norme ‘informato’ e globalizzazione: alcune considerazioni, in Studi in onore di Aldo Frignani, Jovene, Napoli, 2011, pp. 3-16.
  • G.Ajani (with A. Donati, eds.), I diritti dell’arte contemporanea, Allemandi, Torino, 2011, pp. 1-204.
  • G.Ajani (with P. Casanovas, U. Pagallo, G. Sartor eds.), AI Approaches to the Complexity of Legal Systems, Spinger, 2010, pp. 1-241.
  • G.Ajani, “Transplants, Legal Borrowings and Reception”, in Encyclopedia of Law and Society (D.Clark gen. ed.), New York, 2007, vol. 3
  • G. Ajani, Das Recht der Laender Osteuropas, Berliner Wissenschafts Verlag, 2005, pp. 1-253
  • G. Ajani, "Law and Economic Reform in the Transition from Plan to Market", Int. Encycl. of Comparative Law, vol. XVI State and Economy, R. Buxbaum, F. Madl (eds.), Mohr, Tubingen, 2006
  • G.Ajani, R. Schulze (eds.), Gemeinsame Prinzipien des europaischen Privatrechts, 
Nomos Verlag, Baden Baden, 2003, pp. 1-429