Elizabeth Williams

Courtroom Illustration: 5Pointz Trial (Original), 2017

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Lot 13
Pen, pencil, oil paste, oil paint stick
20.0 x 27.0 in (50.8 x 68.6 cm)
Signed on recto


This work ships from Brooklyn, United States.


This illustration depicts artists involved in the making of 5Pointz sitting in the courtroom during the three week trial that took place in November 2017.

The 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens was whitewashed in 2013, destroyed dozens of works of art. Judge Block ultimately ruled in favor of the artists and 36 works of art were protected under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). This drawing is dated on November 3, 2017, and the case is Cohen et al v. G&M Realty L.P. et al, No. 1:2013cv05612 (E.D.N.Y. 2018).

"Twenty-one artists, as plaintiffs, testified in the 5Pointz case. The 100-page decision issued by J. Block contained more than 50 pages of illustrations, reproducing artworks that were destroyed as well as images from artist portfolios prepared for the 5Pointz trial. The mise-en-scene captured by Williams in this original drawing depicts the diverse audience that the case about rights of street artists and the value this form of expression has assumed in the 21st century. Graffiti and street art have gone a long way since the 1980s and 1990s. Artists who spoke about their inspirations and craft on the stand, just as the members of the depicted audience—many of them street artists themselves—offered the jury and the judge a lesson in modern art history. Given the fact that the trial took place in Brooklyn and could not be photographed, Williams’ works are unique records of the history that was in the making before the court. While the case is pending an appeal, the public’s interest in graffiti and street art is growing and provoking new discussions in the context of domestic and international law."
- Irina Tarsis, Esq., Founder and Managing Director, Center for Art Law, New York.