New York v. Dick (1979)
Artist: Robert Wade
Date of Action: 1979
Region: North America
Location: New York, New York
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: State of New York
Description of Artwork: A forty-foot sculpture of an iguana, made of Euthane and wire.
The Incident: The Lone Star Cafe had placed the iguana on its roof. The State of New York brought criminal charges against the Cafe's owners because no permit had been obtained to have the iguana placed on the roof. The iguana's size, ten feet in height and thirty feet in length, had been recognized by a state inspector as a "sign". According to the inspector, the iguana could be categorized as a sign 1) for its monumental size (more than city ordinance allows) and 2) because it "attracted his attention" (part of the state's definition of "sign").
Results of Incident: In court, some discussions on whether the iguana was a "work of art" or a "sign" clarified some complications surrounding the conflict. It was established that the iguana is in fact a work of art. The judge expressed the opinion that "work of art" and "sign" are mutually exclusive categories, and, thusly, the Cafe was found not guilty.