Notion of Artwork
The article 98 A from Annex III of the French General Tax Code gives a fiscal definition of the creations considered as artworks.
A. Paintings, collages and similar decorative plaques, pictures and drawings, entirely handmade by the artist.
The works considered as artworks are paintings, collages and similar decorative plaques, pictures and drawings, entirely handmade by the artist, with the exception of architects or engineer drawings and other industrial, commercial, topographical or similar drawings, and of hand-decorated manufactured items, painted canvas for theatre sets, studio collections or similar uses.
This list includes oil paintings, watercolors, gouache paintings, pastels, drawings, collages and similar decorative plaques, as well as monotypes, regardless of the material used as a support. But these productions must be handmade by the artist, which excludes the use of any process enabling to replace partly or completely this human intervention. The copies of the aforementioned works also benefit from the rules on artworks provided they are entirely handmade.
Monotype is defined as the unique print created by the pressure on a sheet of paper of a work painted in black or in colors, usually on copper or glass and created in the conditions below.
However, the following are not considered to be artworks:
- Productions created using mechanical processes, covers or stencils;
- Original drawings and sketches for the fashion industry, jewelry, car bodies, furniture, etc., and generally any drawing or sketches made for industrial purposes;
- Manufactured items decorated by hand (tourist souvenirs, boxes and cases, ceramic items, etc.).
B. Original engravings, etchings and lithography.
Original engravings, etchings and lithography directly printed in black or in colour in limited number, of one or various plates entirely handmade by the artist, regardless of the technique or material used, with the exception of any mechanical or photomechanical process, are considered to be artworks. The original engravings, etchings and lithography are prints printed in black or in colours, of one or various plates entirely designed and handmade by the same artist.
Engravings are generally made in intaglio, with a burin, dry-point, etching, stippling.
Only the prints meeting these conditions are entitled to be named “Original works”.
Regarding the limited number of prints mentioned in subparagraph II-A § 130, it should be noted that, generally, publisher artists limit the printing of engravings, lithography and etchings; it does not exceeds some hundreds and the prints are not always numbered. As a consequence, it was deemed unnecessary to set a specific limit; the rules on artworks would only be inapplicable to these productions in the case of a number of prints immoderate compared to the normal practice of the profession.
At all events, engravings, etching and lithography made by a mechanical or photomechanical process are not considered as artworks, even if these copies are numbered and signed by the artist; the same applies for prints by printing boards, plates or cylinders.
C. Original productions of statuary art and sculpture
Original productions of statuary art or sculpture in every material are considered to be artworks, apart from jewelry and goldsmithery, as soon as these productions are realised by the artist. Sculpture casts with a production limited to eight copies and supervised by the artist or her successors in title are considered to be artworks as well. Artistic assemblages are also considered as artworks.
These productions are sometimes made with direct cut on hard materials. When the artist creates soft material models (models, project, plaster model) destined for being hardened by fire, or to be copied in hard materials, or to create molders for molten metal or other materials, these models, projects, plaster models are also considered to be artworks.
The artistic assemblages considered as artworks are meant to be constituents put together with a view to creating a unique specimen of artwork, entirely made by hand by a sculptor or a statuary artist (RM de Broglie, n° 24933, JO déb. AN, n° 11 du 13 mars 1976, p. 1012).
Sculpture casts created from a molding of the first work, provided that their copy is supervised by the artist or her successors in title and limited to eight numbered copies, are also considered to be artworks. The copies known as “artist copies” bearing special mentions are included in the same rules within a four copies limit.
The numbering condition is only demanded for casts created after 1st January 1968.
However, the following cannot be considered to be artworks:
- Molds for sculpture casts;
- Artisanal or serial productions and works created using mechanical, photomechanical or chemical processes. The same applies for jewelry and goldsmithery items.
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