Friday, April 26, 2013

"The Appropriation Artist" ... Sounds like misappropriation to me ...

So, apparently there is a type of artist called an "appropriation artist".  I sure would not want to be an appropriation artist who is known strictly because they take other artists' work and incorporate it into their own art ... and call it their own! 

A court ruling was overturned recently in the case of Richard Prince having appropriated (misappropriated?) Patrick Cariou's work from his series, "Yes Rasta".  Quote from NY Times article:  "Mr. Prince argued that his appropriation of the photographs should be allowed under the fair-use exceptions to federal copyright protections, which permit limited borrowing of protected material for purposes like commentary, criticism, news reporting and scholarship."

Prince's work as shown at the Gagosian Gallery fetched over $10 million in sales ... of which Cariou saw none of this ... even though his work was at the root of Prince's work.  Also, I don't think
commentary, criticism, news reporting and scholarship are permitted to generate sales ... are they?

According to the NY Times article:  "Mr. Prince, under oath, said that his works based on Mr. Cariou’s were not intended “to create anything with a new meaning or a new message.”  A presumed summation:  he did not create anything "new", hence, he took the work and used it with no intention to transform it into a radically different piece of art.

Personally, I don't like people stealing work and then on top of that, giving no credit to the original artist.  I don't like the exploitation factor - he used Cariou's work, he never asked permission, he profited from it, gave no credit, gave no compensation, and gets away with it.  Sounds like robbery to me.

Here is the back and forth (won; overturned) case as it unfolded - these articles are worth reading:
April, 2009
April, 2011
April, 2013

Cariou's original work is on the right.  Prince slapped on a guitar and masked the eyes and mouth on his image to the left.  If he wanted to be on the safe side, why not reproduce the idea of the shot?  Get a Rasta to stand in similar pose and then slap on all the stuff ... Selenium tone it via Photoshop or whatever he did to make it look even more "different" (yeah, sure - "substantially different" - that used to be a term thrown around in copyright cases).  Although, there have been cases of copying a shot where that has been called copyright infringement - intentionally setting up a shot to look like another shot.  Yes, well - he is an appropriation artist.  Of course, he wouldn't set up his own shot.  If that doesn't imply lack of creativity, I don't know what does.  I guess this means I can pull out a photograph shot by someone else and doodle on it and do some decoupage on it and then claim it as my own original piece of art ... and maybe even make millions.

What do you think?

(Here are some other posts I've featured on copyright that you can scroll through.)


Friday, April 5, 2013


Here are two photographs featuring children from current shows:

Children playing on Omaha beach, Normandy, France, 1947
Photo:  Chim (David Seymour, a/k/a Chim was a founder of Magnum Photos, along with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1947.)

This photograph can be seen at International Center of Photography in NYC through 5 May, 2013.

Nursery Rhymes 01, Going to School, China, 2012
Photo:  Yu Xiao

This photograph can be seen at 798 Photo Gallery, Beijing, and currently for this weekend only, through 7 April, 2013, at AIPAD (The Association of International Photography Art Dealers' 33rd annual AIPAD Photography Show at the Park Avenue Armory, NYC.)