Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Appropriation Prohibition (or Why I Think Judge Batts Is Wrong)

Pssst....hey buddy...wanna see an outlawed Richard Prince painting?

I'm not sure that the recent ruling by U.S. District Court judge Deborah A. Batts (that paintings from Richard Prince's series “Canal Zone” cannot now lawfully be displayed by the collectors who parted with millions of dollars to buy them) won't make the works all that more precious to their owners. I'd love to know what the judge thinks those collectors need to do to comply with the ruling. Hang a velvet curtain over the paintings? Keep them crated and in storage for eternity? Something even more absurd?

The ruling was a chilling decision for artists who work in appropriation. Artnet.com has the story:
On Mar. 18, 2011, U.S. District Court judge Deborah A. Batts ruled that Richard Prince had infringed the copyright of photographer Patrick Cariou when Prince appropriated 41 photographs from Cariou’s Yes Rasta (PowerHouse Books, 2000, $60), a book of photographs of Rastafarians in Jamaica, for Prince’s own show of artworks at Gagosian Gallery in New York City titled “Canal Zone.”

Prince’s mural-sized collage-and-painting works used figures of Rastafarians from Cariou’s photographs, altering them notably by placing oval shapes over the eyes and mouths of the figures, and by inserting guitars into their hands, sometimes combining them with figures of pornographic nudes (not photographed by Cariou). The exhibition took place Nov. 8-Dec. 20, 2008. Cariou filed his copyright infringement lawsuit against Prince, Gagosian Gallery and Rizzoli (publishers of the catalogue) in December of 2008.
The most unsettling part of Batts' ruling, as artnet.com reports, is how she went so far as to declare Prince's intent for him: "[T]he court found that Prince’s motive in copying Cariou’s photographs was primarily commercial...." If Prince hadn't been using appropriation for decades, I might be able to see Batts' argument (given that "Gagosian sold eight of the works for a total of $10,480,000"), but even then, the notion that an artist cannot do both simultaneously [make important artwork and profit from it] seems a bias that the judiciary, of all institutions, should refrain from propagating. For Batts to claim Prince's primary motivation in creating this body of work was sales is a rather frightening exercise in mind-reading.

But the ruling went far beyond mere money and made a few uniformed declarations about process:
[T]he judge rejected Prince’s claim that his “Canal Zone” works represented “fair use” of Cariou’s original photographs, particularly because Prince’s works do not specifically comment on Cariou’s originals. In testimony Prince admitted that he was not commenting on Cariou’s photographs or Rastafarian culture, but rather sought to pay homage to Cézanne, de Kooning, Picasso and Warhol and other artists. Prince also said that he intended to emphasize three themes: men and women; men and men; and women and women.

Citing the judgment in the 1992 Rogers v. Koons case -- involving Jeff Koons’ String of Puppies sculpture copied from Art Rogers’ postcard photo -- the judge noted that allowing copyright to be infringed solely on the claim of a “higher artistic use” would in practical terms eliminate copyright protection altogether.
This is a philosophical question, and, of course, those who feel their copyrights have been infringed deserve to have their day in court, but "inherent in the process of appropriation is the fact that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work" (emphasis mine). To my mind, that recontextualization is, in and of itself, always commentary.

I realize this leaves open the door for anyone who can dredge up some hypothetical dooms-day scenario involving one of my artists' work being copied outright with commentary of dubious significance as its rationalization (I can tell you, I'd have to see the work before I'd object), but all of that leaves out the fact that Richard Prince is an acknowledged pioneer and leader in the use of appropriation, who has dedicated his career to exploring the recontextualization of images that are all around us.

Another part of the ruling that is sure to make sphincters twitch throughout Chelsea was this:
The ruling also found Gagosian Gallery liable for Prince’s infringements, on the grounds that the gallery should have ensured that Prince had the rights to the material he used before the gallery offered the items for sale.
It may be a simple (and ultimately expensive) call to one's lawyer to ensure the work a gallery plans to show falls within the realm of "fair use," but it's hard to imagine this won't dissuade younger galleries from presenting work they may be found liable for across the board, or pushing back to make the artists pay the legal fees to prove "fair use." The potential impact of this on art history is (as Charlie Finch so rightly noted in his insightful take on the case) Kafkaesque.

Labels: ,

77 Comments:

Blogger ellen yustas k. gottlieb said...

They must appeal the decision, hopefully it will change what seems like a biased decision. Thank you Edward! sincerely yours

3/22/2011 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I realize this leaves open the door for anyone who can dredge up some hypothetical dooms-day scenario involving one of my artists' work being copied outright with commentary of dubious significance as its rationalization (I can tell you, I'd have to see the work before I'd object)...

But as you say, recontextualization is always commentary, and if that makes it non-infringing upon copyrights, it doesn't matter how dubious it is. In fact it's hard to think of some reusage that wouldn't be a recontextualization in the broad way that the art world employs that term. If the judge had decided the case otherwise, ownership of images would have been annihilated.

3/22/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Big No said...

What's the big deal? Why couldn't Prince have just struck up a licensing agreement with Cariou? If Cariou's artistic contribution to the final work is so minimal, then he would have either demanded a reasonable price (say, a few thousand dollars), or he would have demanded an exorbitant price and Prince could have moved on to someone else with cheaper photos of Rastafarians.

Its not hard to make a good faith effort to pay license-holders what their work is worth if you are producing a commercial work from it, especially if you have huge financial and organizational resources like Richard Prince does. I mean $10 million dollars! And they couldn't spare a few thousand for Cariou?!

3/22/2011 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Mery Lynn said...

Mother Nature files lawsuit claiming plein air painters have infringed her copyrights.

3/22/2011 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If the judge had decided the case otherwise, ownership of images would have been annihilated.

I think there's a lot of room between the two, Franklin.

Let's start with the most important issue here (and the one Batts really dropped the ball on in this particular case, IMO): authorship.

Here's an original Cariou photograph juxtaposed with the Prince appropriation painting.

Are you confused as to which is which? I'm not at all confused. The Prince is clear, it's clearly as much a recontextualization as a mustache on a Mona Lisa replica.

What I think Batts failed to grasp was the difference between recontextualization as commentary and dogmatic statement as commentary. Prince refrains from the latter, but the act of appropriation is ALWAYS the former.

In fact it's hard to think of some reusage that wouldn't be a recontextualization in the broad way that the art world employs that term.

That's right. As Sherrie Levine has demonstrated. So we're back to the philosophical question of whether that recontextualization is significant enough to qualify as "fair use."

I'm at a loss as to what legal guidelines should be employed to determine that (IANAL), other than artistic intent. I do think it's laughable, after his long career, for the Judge to conclude that Prince's motivations were primarily commercial.

Tellingly, Levine, the most egregious of appropriators, is not the one being sued the most. The people making the most money from the practice are the ones being sued most consistently.

3/22/2011 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous lester said...

In another article from APhotoEditor, I read that "Prince testified 'that he doesn’t 'really have a message' he attempts to communicate when making art." If this is true, then Prince buried himself by not making a case for fair use. Hubris had its day in court and we get to pick up the pieces.

3/22/2011 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I suspect it depends on how you define "message."

A "message" is a concise communication of precise meaning. Many contemporary artists work to avoid communicating some easy, precise meaning, feeling that it's a false construct, the slippery area between meaning that their work thrives in being a very rich vein to mine.

I personally feel these explorations are in their infancy, but very very important.

3/22/2011 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

What I think Batts failed to grasp was the difference between recontextualization as commentary and dogmatic statement as commentary. Prince refrains from the latter, but the act of appropriation is ALWAYS the former.

Prince's work is the very picture of dogmatism, one long, cynical, ugly tirade against artistic originality. But I don't see how that enters into the discussion. Considerations of artistic merit hover around the edges of pornography rulings as well, and the consensus agrees in that regard that we're better off not burdening the state with defining art for us.

I do think it's laughable, after his long career, for the Judge to conclude that Prince's motivations were primarily commercial.

Given eight-digit price tags on work dedicated to insulting the very idea of artistic merit I'm not sure how you could come to another conclusion, except to ask that a judge in a court of law to give legal weight to ironic meta-commentary. Implied here is a might-makes-right argument that a museum-level career protects one from charges of theft of intellectual property. If that's the case we should just award ownership of appropriated images to whomever's works are selling for higher prices.

The people making the most money from the practice are the ones being sued most consistently.

To misquote Willie Sutton, that's where the money is. On the other hand, I seem to remember a recent counterexample involving a pair of balloon-animal dog bookends.

3/22/2011 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous greg.org said...

What Ed said.

I've read through Prince's deposition, and it seems quite obvious that Prince and Cariou's lawyer are talking about very different things when they use the term "message."

He and his lawyers added a clarification that when he was talking about "message," he meant "political message," as if an artwork is intended to "mean" one, specifiable thing that can be communicated in words in a deposition, which, arguably/obviously/thankfully art doesn't.

There is ample evidence and testimony that Prince has ideas and inspirations and motivations and possible interpretations for this work; that's undeniable by everyone except, apparently, the judge, who actually says in the decision that she assumes Prince's message is the same as Cariou's, an homage to the truth and purity of Rasta culture. It really is an insane ruling.

3/22/2011 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

"Considerations of artistic merit" is not what was on trial, though. Only "fair use" was on trial. The courts are the right place to decide that, as artists continue to push the issue.

I agree with Greg that Batts totally missed the boat with this one.

Perhaps Prince and Gagosian were poorly represented, I don't know, but it seems insane to me that they lost this case.

3/22/2011 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Parody is protected, but I'm not sure that "commentary" is...

If it were, then any artist could steal any image and be free to profit from it.

I understand why, as a gallerist, you would want to fight this ruling -- but as an artist, I can say that I'm tired of "appropriation" as an accepted method of bastardizing stolen intellectual property images (images that are original works of other artists) and having the guile to call it "Art". It's artistic cannibalism and is contemptuous.

I'm with Big No (see post above) -- just strike up a licensing agreement with the original artist and be done with it -- and quit whining in court over stealing intellectual property as if it is a god-given right.

3/22/2011 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

"Considerations of artistic merit" is not what was on trial, though.

Then I guess I don't understand the point of your remark that Batts "failed to grasp was the difference between recontextualization as commentary and dogmatic statement as commentary." I thought you were claiming that some recontextualizations are better than others, and that Batts ought to be able to make those distinctions.

I don't have time right now to go through all 38 pages of the ruling, but here's what turned up on p.10:

Defendants assert that Cariou's Photos are mere compilations of facts concerning Rastafarians and the Jamaican landscape, arranged with minimum creativity in a manner
typical of their genre, and that he Photos are therefore not protectable as a matter of law, despite Plaintiff's extensive testimony about the creative hoices he made in taking, processing, developing, and selecting them.


That's pretty low. Batts comments:

Unfortunately for Defendants, it has been a matter of settled law for well over one hundred years that creative photographs are worthy of copyright protection even when they depict real people and natural environments.

So far this ruling looks like it paid careful attention to precedents and handled both sides fairly, but I look forward to the "insane" parts.

3/22/2011 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

In copyright, "fair use" applies in non-commercial use only -- NOT when monetary gain is either expected or intended.

If Prince NEVER sold any of his work, then he could probably have won.

3/22/2011 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I was Cariou I think I would have been flattered

3/22/2011 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous John said...

My understanding of the decision is that the "commentary" must be about the works that have been appropriated. By Prince dismissing the importance and creative merit of those photographs he actually argued against his own defense of fair use. It seems he was legally ill-advised...

3/22/2011 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

By Prince dismissing the importance and creative merit of those photographs he actually argued against his own defense of fair use.

I think one can parse that a bit further, John. I'm as sure Prince was ill-advised (possibly legally) to say the photographs were not of creative value...they were in a book, clearly copyrighted, and by all other indications works that someone presented within a "creative" context, so it makes no sense at all to me to even bring that up.

But an image needn't be 'creative' in the fine art sense to be of artistic value via appropriation recontextualization (as Warhol showed).

He should have stuck with the argument that the appropriation act itself is a commentary by default and isn't limited to a direct, dogmatic statement on the original.

3/22/2011 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

OK, so ignoring law and what can be done and not, doesn't the artist have some sort of moral responsibility? As Big No said..

"What's the big deal? Why couldn't Prince have just struck up a licensing agreement with Cariou?"

As a photographer I wouldn't be flattered or proud if my photos showed up in Prince's work without my knowing. However, if Prince would approach me with a licensing deal before I'd probably be all over it needing the money and being treated in a respectful way.
Next time maybe Prince should have the balls to use Gursky's or Soth's photos?

3/22/2011 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Next time maybe Prince should have the balls to use Gursky's or Soth's photos?

Hah!!! Best.Comment.Ever!

3/22/2011 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

Thanks Edward. That's truly how I feel. Would put it all in a different light!

3/22/2011 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Hi Ed, I am no copyright lawyer but I believe the fair use defense is intended to specifically defend the re-use of creative works. Warhol's use of Campbell's copyright was seen, I think, by the company as a bonanza of free advertising! So, by attacking the merits of the photographer's work, Prince was demolishing his own defense.

3/22/2011 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Warhol also re-used images from newspapers and other sources that were obviously copyrighted, but not creative.

3/22/2011 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger j_d_hastings said...

I don't sympathize with Prince. Blanche v, Koons was pretty clear, and also relied on Rogers. In BvK, Koons got off for describing his use of the photograph being a transformative commentary about the genre it belonged to.

All Prince needed was to assert a similar sentiment. Or SOMETHING similar. Something that makes his use of those photos necessary to the piece he was making. Insteads he says, "In testimony Prince admitted that he was not commenting on Cariou’s photographs or Rastafarian culture, but rather sought to pay homage to Cézanne, de Kooning, Picasso and Warhol and other artists. Prince also said that he intended to emphasize three themes: men and women; men and men; and women and women."
Nowhere in there does he say what was needed. Unless he clarified elsewhere its over.
The court believes in the value of appropriation art. In that interest they defined conditions that should be met. Prince and his legal team didn't see the need to assert any of those conditions applied. Therefor they lost. How did his counsel not train him what to say? I have no idea. He is a bad attorney. In the court room, you are playing by their rules. If you don't play by those rules they will treat you harshly.

To me it's like they never even TRIED to meet the criteria as set out in the case histories.

3/22/2011 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Hi all. Great thread. Can anyone clarify the difference between appropriating a photograph that is already considered art, or at least "creative" and one that is not? I appropriate images of car crashes and fires from the internet, almost all of which are found in the photo archive sections of fire department and other emergency response websites. I have always considered that these were fairly safe. Most seem to be taken by anonymous-fire-fighter-guy-with-camera, although occasionally it appears that a professional or semi-professional photographer is hired to take the photos. Is there a difference, legally? Cheers.

3/23/2011 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across this article in Art News French Photographer Patrick Cariou on His Copyright Suit Victory Against Richard Prince and Gagosian


My take: A lazy, thief artist and his thief dealer finally get caught. Does it make appropriation more difficult? Maybe. But hasn't it gotten to the level where the famous can steal from the less famous and get away with it? Somehow we're expected to think that because it's Richard Prince that makes it OK. If he mixed it up a bit (more sources) maybe he could've sneaked by, and that's why I say lazy. Gagosian steals artists from other galleries luring them with big bucks and is known for making offers to sell work he doesn't own and gets away with it because he's at the top of the art world, that's why I call him a thief.

3/23/2011 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Gam said...

some of Mr Princes thought on the issue here:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/03/richard-prince-in-his-own-words.html

So sometimes it’s better not to be successful and well known and you can get away with much more.

When I read a lot of the comments on other photography sites, what really discourages me is the underling animosity towards painters. Maybe it's deserved, maybe it's not, it's just a schism within the arts bespeaks something I hadn't expected to be the result of art per se.

Pixiq below also has a lucid look at the issues within the summary judgement.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2011/03/19/richard-prince-loses-fair-use-argument/

Not sure what I think. Although I am really shocked at how many images he used though. It was more a body of work then just a simple copyright infringement of a photo in question.

3/23/2011 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Prince: I knew what I was stealing 30 years ago but it didn’t matter because no one cared, no one was paying any attention. It was an attitude to do with the fact that I didn’t think there was a future. Unfortunately that didn’t come true.

"Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos." - Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski

3/23/2011 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." ---T.S. Eliot

3/24/2011 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Gam's remark is exactly right:

"When I read a lot of the comments on other photography sites, what really discourages me is the underling animosity towards painters. Maybe it's deserved, maybe it's not, it's just a schism within the arts.."

It's a very deep, very real animosity. We've seen it surface on countless occasions: think of the infamous lawsuits and C&Ds wielded against Warhol, Rauschenberg, et al. As usual, there's more to it than meets the eye (sorry, bad pun). If one digs but a little deeper into the early history of photography and its reliance on painting for both its pictorial conventions and subject matter (not to mention, er, outright 'copying'), a much richer story emerges than the one framed by recent legal history; the culture of photographers is way more twisted than the simplistic reasoning ('appropriation is theft') and scapegoating of bad boy artists (such easy targets) would have you believe.

3/24/2011 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous mmuldrow said...

I've been wondering if there needs to be a change in the law itself?-looking at the music industry model of making royalty agreements with artists when a riff/sample is used.Some musicians who appropriate their samples to the point they are unrecognizable to the source,don't really worry about having to approach the original artists,because the sources are so obscured,but when it is an entire chorus or a very recognizable bassline,or orchestral hook,the artists need to pay a fee.I think that either is arranged as a onetime fee or as a royalty split.Considering visual media is as easily sampled as music now,perhaps the laws need to change so we won't have to worry about the muddy territory of fair use,what is art,etc.?

3/24/2011 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Blogger Edward_ said...
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." ---T.S. Eliot

I've seen you cite quotes promoting the idea that stealing is what the educated, mature, worldly, etc. "artist" DOES -- and I find it grotesque.

When said in jest, it's funny -- in practice it only reveals a hack.

If an "artist" is dead inside, he/she MUST steal to continue -- nothing of value can be produced anymore, otherwise he/she would be creatively, brilliantly producing it! To reference another one of your threads: he/she should Retire!

3/24/2011 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

We disagree Terri. I think there's plenty of reasons to approach that disagreement with mutual respect (rather than tossing out works like "grotesque").

Eliot was speaking from practice and I'd hardly consider him a hack.

Starting with the notion that no artist is actually a God (despite widespread delusions to the contrary), the act of "creation" is arguably limited to rearranging the things that already exist in a format that the artist can (from their limited experience) presume is unique, and often assert as much, but without proof that the same exact "discovery" or "creation" wasn't subconsciously hobbled together from other things they've seen or experienced.

Arguably, mature artists spend time considering this, realize on occasion that they had indeed "stolen" this or that idea and, rather than become paralyzed by it, instead embrace this process as part of all human "creation."

3/24/2011 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

The Eliot quote is fresh in my mind because Jane Hirschfield discusses it in her book Nine Gates, which I'm two-thirds of the way through:

Such "borrowing" is may seem at first the opposite of originality, yet much is revealed about creative change when we recognize art as an ancient bazaar in which the same pieces of jewelry are continually stolen, polished up, and resold.

The full quote reads, "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different." We're not talking about the theft of ownership, but theft of inspiration, the theft of fire from the gods. Only a fool would conclude from "mature poets steal" that stealing makes you a mature poet. And only someone with no capacity for poetry would think that they're meant to burgle the words themselves.

3/24/2011 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Only a fool would conclude from "mature poets steal" that stealing makes you a mature poet.

When you find that fool, kindly point him out.

We're not talking about the theft of ownership, but theft of inspiration,

We're actually talking about the theft of ownership, as Hirshfield acknowledges in noting "much is revealed about creative change when we recognize art as an ancient bazaar in which the same pieces of jewelry are continually stolen, polished up, and resold."

3/24/2011 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Blogger Edward_ said...
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." ---T.S. Eliot

But Edward, how much plagiarism is in T.S. Eliot's writing?
If an artist steals a style or motif or composition from another artist but uses it to reference the source or takes it further or in a new direction and makes it something of their own then yes I agree a mature artist steals, because they have the wisdom to know a good thing. Picasso and cubism is probably one of the most famous art examples, though it helped Braque more than hurt him. Sherrie Levine references the artists she copies, Doeringer's worked can be considered an act of homage to the artists he copies while Duchamp took a well known image from a dead artist and riffed on it and took industrial objects from anonymous crafters and hailed it as art.
What I find offensive, after reading through many articles about the case is the assumption on behalf of Gagosian and Richard Prince that Prince's work is transformative while Patrick Cariou's work is less than art. The ruling puts both artists on a level playing field though many in the art world accept a hierarchy that more money, power and fame somehow mean one artist is better than other. A commercial gallery is out to make money so of course they are going to hype their artist and it works for most people, but not under the law. Gagosian and Prince should have settled but they pushed it to the end and lost.
Edward, if Richard Prince had used all the images from a show you had of one of your artists would you consider it flattery or would you take him to court?

3/24/2011 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Blogger Edward_ said...
"...the act of "creation" is arguably limited to rearranging the things that already exist in a format that the artist can (from their limited experience) presume is unique, and often assert as much, but without proof that the same exact "discovery" or "creation" wasn't subconsciously hobbled together from other things they've seen or experienced."

Oh Edward. This negates the statement completely by interpreting it as meaning "there is nothing new under the sun" -- which is quite a different statement.

Steal - To take (the property of another) without right or permission.

Stealing is very different from, say, being inspired by something. Stealing is a very direct, cannibalistic act, preying on a victim.

We all are inspired or motivated by all that we perceive.

By departing from accepted, dictionary definitions of words, we can make the statements of theft *appear* very intellectually savy -- and that is not lost on me -- but it only serves to lead the masses to think that stealing is not just okay, but that it's what ALL of the cool kids are doing! (I think that everyone with a brain needs to take a little social responsibility on this one... )


Anonymous Franklin said...
"And only someone with no capacity for poetry would think that they're meant to burgle the words themselves."

There's the rub. Franklin also wants the Elliot statement not to be taken "as-is", but as an interpretation. Literally, it means what it says, and it says what it says -- and THAT glorifies "stealing".


Blogger Edward_ said...
'We're actually talking about the theft of ownership, as Hirshfield acknowledges in noting "much is revealed about creative change when we recognize art as an ancient bazaar in which the same pieces of jewelry are continually stolen, polished up, and resold."'

Okay, here she's writing in metaphor, and it is either a very poorly chosen metaphor, or the world of poetry has lost all of it's originality. (Which is sad, because poetry is/was the pride of the Muses... )


If statements on the glory of stealing intellectual material are so true, why is it still a cause for dispute? Why is there copyright protection? Because although people may like to steal, they do not like to be stolen from -- and these are the same people!

I can discuss the philosophy of ethics, or the meaning of stealing vs. appropriation vs. inspiration vs. synchronicity, but stealing is still stealing, and it is wrong primarily because there is a victim.

3/24/2011 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Blogger Edward_ said...
"I think there's plenty of reasons to approach that disagreement with mutual respect (rather than tossing out works like "grotesque")."

I apologize for not making it clear that I find the idea of glorifying stealing as "grotesque" -- not your use of the quotations -- that I only find a little irritating because I want you to know better than to wave the flag for stealing. Stealing hampers creativity. It hobbles art. People do it because it's easy.

3/24/2011 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

First and last request, Terri.

Lighten up on the condescending tone ("Oh Edward") or stop wondering whether your comments are ever going to be published...they won't be.

You're contradicting yourself within this one comment :

"Literally, it means what it says, and it says what it says"

and

"Okay, here she's writing in metaphor"

3/24/2011 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Has anyone here read this terrific piece by Jonathan Lethem? -->

"The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism"

http://harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081387

It illustrates the following quote (and the punchline's really funny):


All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . . .

—John Donne

3/24/2011 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Blogger Edward_ said...

First and last request, Terri.

Lighten up on the condescending tone ("Oh Edward") or stop wondering whether your comments are ever going to be published...they won't be.

You're contradicting yourself within this one comment :

"Literally, it means what it says, and it says what it says"

and

"Okay, here she's writing in metaphor"



Respectfully, I do apologize for what I saw as an exasperated tone ("Oh Edward") and for it appearing to you as condescending, because I never meant it that way. (I respect you, I just disagree with you.)

I didn't contradict myself between the two comments, because the first comment applies to Elliot's quotation, and the second applies to Hirshfield's quotation (there was also a gender reference in my second comment which wouldn't apply to Elliot).

3/24/2011 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Terri, I'm saying you're contradicting yourself because you're insisting we interpret Eliot's writing as literal but view Hirshfield's as metaphorical, when to my mind they're both arguably metaphorical. Eliot was not writing about literal stealing (i.e., plagiarism), but rather a metaphorical "stealing" (i.e., appropriation/referencing/homage, etc.), the difference (Bernard) being that the plagiarist is counting on the viewer/reader's inability to recognize the original author or source of the material, where as the appropriator is not.

3/24/2011 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@ Edward,

"the difference (Bernard) being that the plagiarist is counting on the viewer/reader's inability to recognize the original author or source of the material, where as the appropriator is not."

But according to that Some way of understanding that Patrick Cariou's photographs were being used in Prince's art should have been made obvious, and if Patrick Cariou were a better known artist that may have been the case, but it was not. As commercial entities Gagosian's gallery damaged the chance of Patrick Cariou's gallery to profit from his own work.

I am not arguing against appropriation in all its forms but in this case Prince found where the line is drawn.

3/24/2011 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

When you find that fool, kindly point him out.

Richard Prince, a bad poet by Eliot's test of defacing what he took.

We're actually talking about the theft of ownership, as Hirshfield acknowledges...

Clearly only one of us is reading this book. The excerpt is from the chapter "The Question of Originality" and she's talking about the mechanisms by which something original and new comes into the world. The chapter culminates in her describing the hunt for the original mind, a hunt that should be taken no more literally than Eliot's theivery. The reselling of the jewels echoes an old Zen proverb likening the teaching of the Dharma to the selling of water by the river, with a nice allusion to the jewels at the intersections of the Diamond Net of Indra. (The author is a lay Soto Zen priest as well as an accomplished poet.) This goes far deeper than the matter of whom the words belong to.

a metaphorical "stealing" (i.e., appropriation/referencing/homage, etc.)

I found the whole passage.

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest. Chapman borrowed from Seneca; Shakespeare and Webster from Montaigne. The two great followers of Shakespeare, Webster and Tourneur, in their mature work do not borrow from him; he is too close to them to be of use to them in this way.

Eliot is not referring to appropriation, especially not as practiced so cynically and disdainfully by Prince.

3/24/2011 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Clearly only one of us is reading this book.

I didn't quote the book...I quoted the passage you offered up to make your point (multi-tasking a tad too much, perhaps, but...), which seems to disprove your point.

Hate da game, don't hate da player....

Eliot is not referring to appropriation,

But his quote can be interpreted to cover the various forms of "stealing," one of which is now (not in his time, perhaps, but we're waiting for someone to update the sentiment) appropriation.

3/24/2011 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous SLP_NYC said...

hi ed,

I wrote about this too but take the opposite stance. [you can access that on my facebook, if you like...with respect to your forum I will decline posting a link].

I'm personally very excited by the different dissenting voices on such a worthy issue. With regards to your well-argued position, I think it bears mentioning an important thing:

This case was over the 'Canal Zone' series, not over the entire body of work of Richard Prince. The difference therein is that the work of Cariou is presented and marketed as that of 'fine art' to be sold in a gallery context. Conversely, most of the early appropriations of Prince - the fashion series, Marlborough men, et al - are of images that exist and are created for a different market & context. As the court found in Blanch v. Koons, such a drastic altering of context can be considered the creation of a new work (in concert with other factors)...meaning that the law would, technically speaking, support some of Prince's work and not others.

In Cariou v. Prince, the court found that showing the work in one gallery versus another gallery was not a compelling alteration of meaning. Further, it seems that this is why the judge called the work a commercial tactic (as opposed to an artistic or unique one).

This ruling is not only consistent with how other people have won infringement cases before (like Blanch v Koons), but is also consistent with legal boundaries on of non-compete issues in trademark - meaning that 2 people cannot use the same mark/name etc in the same domain to sell the same goods in the same manner.

Prince & Cariou are engaged in the same practice (creating & selling art in the fine art context). Prince & Richard Kern, Leo Burnett (the creative director of the Marlboro Man ads) and other work that has been appropriated by Prince are not. Based on Blanch v. Koons, if any of those decide to pursue action against Prince (and at least Kerns has stated he has not), their cases would have a tougher time in court than did Cariou.

The best way, it would seem, for a 'fine' artist to take the work of another 'fine' artist would be with their consent, knowledge and/ or approval. Like Prince's own deKooning series...its doubtful that the Estate of de Kooning is likely to bring charges against Prince, as it appears that they know of the work and they support it (as it is shown & sold through the same gallery). This demonstrates their right to act according to their own interests, however, as does Cariou's decision.

And I agree with you completely about your first sentence...good luck getting them to comply. They just went miraculously, overnight from owning some of the most dismissed work ever made by this artist to the most discussed & visible.

3/24/2011 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/24/2011 08:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I quoted the passage you offered up to make your point... which seems to disprove your point.

And I have explained why it does not.

But his quote can be interpreted to cover the various forms of "stealing," one of which is now (not in his time, perhaps, but we're waiting for someone to update the sentiment) appropriation.

There's nothing "perhaps" about it, and just because there's semantic overlap between Eliot's metaphorical stealing with Prince's actual stealing doesn't mean that they have anything to do with each other. Asserting as much is a horrendous reading of Eliot.

3/24/2011 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

And I have explained why it does not.

Unconvincingly tried you mean.

That statement isn't qualified in the original the way you attempted to do it...there's no mention of a river or Zen practice...it's clearly contextualized within the metaphor of a bazaar, at which objects (sometimes stolen) are repackaged, bargained over, exchanged, bought, and (often again) stolen by petty thieves. The inescapable central focus of all that activity and human interaction is the ownership of an object. If Hirshfield meant her "jewels" to be understood within your fuzzy Zen framework, she went a long way around confusing the point with her more concrete metaphor.

Asserting as much is a horrendous reading of Eliot.

In your opinion.

Eliot's statement has been since appropriated, reportedly by Picasso no less, and arguably updated to "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." The notion has evolved, as has artistic practice.

All this slipperiness of meaning where it meets time and place is precisely what Prince and other appropriators are trying to show us exists all around us all the time. Attempting to lock down meaning, as if one had the final word on this or that reading, is IMHO the horrendous act. At the very least, it is something everyone should be aware is disputable.

3/25/2011 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Big No said...

@George
if a movie producer wants to use a Prince painting [sic] in a film, you better believe they get the proper releases or they wont use it.

Or even better yet, in a commercial! I would love to see Prince's paintings recontentextualized into an ad for T-Mobile.

When AT&T used imagery inspired by the Gates project in a commercial, I feel like the general sentiment in the art world was that Christo and Jean-Claude had been the wronged party, not that they should be flattered that their art was being used by a great and successful corporation. And that wasn't even for a direct copy.

Im a big fan of reuse and sampling. I grew up on hip hop. But I think the art world's instinctive desire to protect its own hierarchy pollutes some of the recontextualization arguments on this topic. TV commercials are a great test for the strength of these arguments, because as an art form for the masses, they are probably the lowest of the low in that hierarchy.

So how about it pro-Prince folks? Would you be flattered to have your art or your artists' art being elevated and exposed to a huge audience as part of the new Pepto-Bismal national campaign without your permission?

3/25/2011 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Big No said...

@George
if a movie producer wants to use a Prince painting [sic] in a film, you better believe they get the proper releases or they wont use it.

Or even better yet, in a commercial! I would love to see Prince's paintings recontentextualized into an ad for T-Mobile.

When AT&T used imagery inspired by the Gates project in a commercial, I feel like the general sentiment in the art world was that Christo and Jean-Claude had been the wronged party, not that they should be flattered that their art was being used by a great and successful corporation. And that wasn't even for a direct copy.

Im a big fan of reuse and sampling. I grew up on hip hop. But I think the art world's instinctive desire to protect its own hierarchy pollutes some of the recontextualization arguments on this topic. TV commercials are a great test for the strength of these arguments, because as an art form for the masses, they are probably the lowest of the low in that hierarchy.

So how about it pro-Prince folks? Would you be flattered to have your art or your artists' art being elevated and exposed to a huge audience as part of the new Pepto-Bismal national campaign without your permission?

3/25/2011 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/25/2011 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I provided the context of the Hirschfield quote. You have now discussed her metaphor at greater length than she did, emphasizing an aspect of it that is irrelevant and contradictory to her larger point. I have also provided the context of the Eliot quote, and it likewise does not sanction the empty art game played by Prince. Picasso authored many witticisms but "good artists borrow, great artists steal" wasn't one of them; it's probably a misattributed corruption of the Eliot quote. My "fuzzy Zen framework" is actually Hirschfield's contemplative training and her exquisite translations of Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. But by all means, ignore all of this. The whole history of literature retroactively vindicates contemporary art in its perfection and inerrancy. Appropriation first appears in Ecclesiastes. We only need interpret it thus. Anyone who challenges our wild claims is guilty of the "horrendous act" of "locking down meaning."

Spare me. Myriad readings are possible that don't pervert the authors' original meaning. I've turned to reading about poetry because it still values respectful, reasonable interpretation. This has all but disappeared from writing about contemporary art, replaced by an attitude that you are allowed to say whatever you like as long as it flatters the prevailing ideology.

3/25/2011 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You have now discussed her metaphor at greater length than she did,

Only to demonstrate why your dismissal of my insisting that we are discussing ownership was unconvincing. Excuse me for bringing my own definition and associations with "bazaar" to the quotation you offered. But, and this is the point, that is what happens. One's worldview colors how they associate meaning to others' statements. Not acknowledging that fact, or simply ignoring this slipperiness, is problematic IMO.

What you read as a perversion of meaning, someone else with a different experience might read as a universal truth, all based on your respective personal histories and worldviews and biases.

None of which is to say we can't communicate effectively, but simply to highlight how being aware of this slipperiness can make us work harder to ensure we communicate better.

3/25/2011 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Big No said...

@mmuldrow
Considering visual media is as easily sampled as music now,perhaps the laws need to change so we won't have to worry about the muddy territory of fair use,what is art,etc.?

Im not sure about the legal difference between music and visual media. But if there is a difference, it does sound like technology is making that difference less relevant, and the differences should be eliminated.

What's really going to throw a monkey wrench in the system is 3D scanning/printing technology. We all think of images and sound as media. But what happens when the physical world itself becomes just another form of media? I suspect our laws are totally unprepared for a future in which you can point your cellphone at something, then go home and print it out in full three dimensional physical form. Why buy it when you can just print out an exact copy? But the good news is it will revolutionize sculpture!

3/25/2011 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Blogger Edward_ said...
"Terri, I'm saying you're contradicting yourself because you're insisting we interpret Eliot's writing as literal but view Hirshfield's as metaphorical, when to my mind they're both arguably metaphorical."

Edward, kindly let's look at the definition:
"Metaphor - A figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common."
So no, the Eliot quote could not be a metaphor.

For my own peace of mind, I looked into the quote attributed to Eliot and the corresponding quote attributed to Picasso, and what I found was this:
http://nancyprager.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/good-poets-borrow-great-poets-steal/

An excerpt from that link: "Paraphrasing is fine, but attributing a paraphrase as a quote is intellectually and academically dishonest. Both versions of the quote have been adopted and implemented into culture by people justifying broad fair use arguments or their own habits. Significantly, it is unfair that either of the great artists have been affiliated with a quote that does not reflect them, or their work."

3/25/2011 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

To be fair, I've just read a bit about T. S. Eliot, and yes, he was indeed a plagiarist -- and Picasso did indeed steal his entire style from Braque -- but neither really ever said/wrote the popular quotes attributed to them.

These misquotes persist because this culture *wants* to cannibalize itself -- it's probably the death throes of this consumer culture.

3/25/2011 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, Joy Garnett is one of your represented artists, correct? Obviously you are going to support Prince on this issue. Garnett has had legal trouble of her own for violating copyright in the past. Do you allow photography in your gallery? If so would you still allow it if an artist made it clear that he or she was going to work from the photographs under fair use? I doubt it. You would boot them.

3/28/2011 05:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, you say, "Are you confused as to which is which? I'm not at all confused. The Prince is clear, it's clearly as much a recontextualization as a mustache on a Mona Lisa replica."

Again... would you be OK knowing a photographer is in your gallery taking pictures with the intent of altering the images later as new works of art? If Cariou had lost this case it would have opened the doors to any image being free to use. I think that would be bad for your business in the end. I don't see how an art dealer can be against copyright.

3/28/2011 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terri, an artist can steal style if he or she wants. You can't copyright style.

People often assume that copyright law protects style or prevents artists from working in the same style. It does not do that. Even fair use is not that limiting when you think about it because there are millions if not billions of images that are "safe" to use under fair use.

Most photographers will give you rights or sell you limited rights if their photos are copyrighted. I've noticed that many appropriation artist who are "caught stealing" claim that the "borrowed" image is not that important to the image. If that is the case why did they have to use it?

3/28/2011 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I don't see how an art dealer can be against copyright.

Anonymous...may I call you "Anonymous"?

You have some strong opinions for someone who seems to be only paying half attention.

I am fully in support of copyright. I am also fully in support of "fair use" of copyrighted material.

I understand that what constitutes "fair use" is a question that the courts are probably sick of artists pushing the envelope on. Too bad. They get paid to do just that.

As I said above, I believe strongly that the artists pushing the boundaries here are doing important work and that Batts' decision was just lazy, ignoring as it seemed to, Prince's entire body of work and the now well-established practice of appropriation that he is a pioneer of; the fact that all appropriation is "commentary" (and yes, on the original as well as the genre of the original), even when the artist is confused about that himself; and making such a big deal out of Prince and Gagosian's misguided (IMHO) statements about the creative value of the original images. That's entirely beside the point.

I'm guessing you're a photographer or fan of photography. I've noted in several places that photographers are being called out for not speaking up loudly enough about their side of this issue. Not assigning your name to your comments isn't helping in that regard, you know.

3/28/2011 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Ed said: ...the fact that all appropriation is "commentary" (and yes, on the original as well as the genre of the original), even when the artist is confused about that himself; and making such a big deal out of Prince and Gagosian's misguided (IMHO) statements about the creative value of the original images. That's entirely beside the point.

Amen. Another couple of things: people who have never seen the actual Canal Zone series seem to feel comfortable passing judgment by comparing jpegs of Prince's works with Cariou's. This is indefensibly lame. When faced with the physicality of a painting -- and in this case, with a number of rather large one-of-a-kind objects that combine several mediums and methods none of which are "straight photography" -- the fact that they are new entities is inescapable. You have to be either blind, or blinded by emotion -- or by attachment to an idea -- to not see that. And yes, works in the series directly reference a number of things, among them Cariou's "nobel savage" photographs. These, along with Richard Kern's cheesecake photos blown up huge as the Rastas and likewise tweaked, are still only a portion of what Prince is referencing. The laziness and lazy thinking of those who are quick to label Prince as "lazy" IS rather striking.

3/28/2011 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/28/2011 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Terri, an artist can steal style if he or she wants. You can't copyright style."

Never said anyone could.

You probably haven't read the entire thread (or at least paid attention to who wrote what).

My comment was in response to a particular line of thought, and had nothing to do with copyright -- but I guess I am glad that you are aware that style cannot be copyrighted -- so many people are very misinformed about copyright protection of intellectual property in the visual arts that discussions quickly degrade into absurdity.

3/28/2011 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

True, and the courts just made a ruling.

And Prince is appealing that ruling...and so it goes with such matters. The important thing to me is that artists have as much freedom as possible within the law to explore this territory. So naturally I'm on the side of the courts being very well informed about the artists' ideas here.

... Prince's entire body of work... is irrelevant

Not in the context of which I have consistently brought up Prince's entire body of work: the judge's insistence that his motivation was primarily commercial. Against his history of using appropriation that claim falls apart.

The smart thing to do would to have licensed the photographs.

The smart thing from a commercial point of view, perhaps, which further undercuts Batt's ruling about Prince's motivation.

Her ruling was lazy.

3/28/2011 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

The joke is on the judge, who doesn't seem to understand very much of anything: it wasn't Cariou's images that determined the commercial value of Prince's Canal Zone series, but rather Prince's reputation and his previous body of work. And his celebrity. It is Cariou's work that appreciates through Prince's appropriation of them. Period. The premise that Prince disrupted or harmed Cariou's market (fair use factor #4) is based on a profound lack of understanding of the relationship of markets to IP.

Also, the judge apparently turned a blind eye to the fact revealed in the deposition: Cariou's supposed "solo exhibition" that was "canceled" by Christiane Celle/Clic Gallery was never in the works; it was a story trumped up all the better to pursue Prince in an infringement case. You can read the deposition -- it's pretty disgusting -- and read the way the narrative of Cariou-as-victim was ingeniously born.

3/28/2011 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/28/2011 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@Joy,

I have not read the deposition yet (at work w/no free time), but it crossed my mind that the gallery show may have been trumped up. I speculated that the artist, or one of his assistants get a call from Richard Prince (which I read did happen) and they set-up a situation for Prince to get entangled in. In my opinion it should not make a difference in the case and this is why:
Cariou took the photos. He did the legwork to produce the images. He wanted them displayed a certain way and (as I understand it) has a right to see through his vision commercially of the photographs as he wants.
Prince appropriates the images and forever changes the way they will be interpreted, no matter how Cariou then decides to display them the context has been altered by Prince. Perhaps he could have made money off of the new context of the works, but believing he had a reasonable case against Prince he chose court.
Considering "Molotov Man" as an example the original photographer did not intend (as I understand it) to display her photo of "Molotov Man" as art in a gallery. Plus this was a single image of which you found online and then cropped to focus only on the molotov cocktail thrower.
Prince used many (40, I think) images from the book (and the images were only in book from, not published online, I think). At what point does appropriation become infringing on another artist's rights? I think Prince found that line.

3/28/2011 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

hi Bernard

parsing your comment:

Cariou took the photos. He did the legwork to produce the images. He wanted them displayed a certain way and (as I understand it) has a right to see through his vision commercially of the photographs as he wants.

Of course. And no one, not Prince, nor his appropriations, are stopping him from continuing to do so. On the other hand, Cariou's lawsuit inflicts those very same conditions of obstruction upon Prince and his work, and more.

Prince appropriates the images and forever changes the way they will be interpreted, no matter how Cariou then decides to display them the context has been altered by Prince.

Good point. However, no image is "safe" from being experienced in contexts other than those intended -- that lies far beyond the artist's control, and always has. Context cannot be nailed to your work. As the world changes, so do conditions for experiencing art, and so does the meaning of the artwork, for better or for worse. It is true that photojournalists in particular tend to want to control the context in which their work is experienced. This has a lot to do with the history of photojournalism and news agencies/wire services. But where this control impinges upon free speech -- either critique by others or use in others' works that reference them -- this desire to control context is overreaching. Imho artists really need to learn to defend themselves from this kind of overreaching control, not censure their own work and process in order to preempt it.

Perhaps he could have made money off of the new context of the works, but believing he had a reasonable case against Prince he chose court.

Yes, of course he could have just piggybacked on Prince's success. In fact, he already has :-) You opt to go to court because you feel you've been victimized. "Feel" is the operative word here. Such decisions to litigate are fueled by emotion; and yet "feeling" you've been victimized doesn't necessarily mean you have been. In this instance it looks like there were other things going on as well, including a dealer working with Cariou in order to squeeze Prince/Gogo for some $$$.

Considering "Molotov Man" as an example the original photographer did not intend (as I understand it) to display her photo of "Molotov Man" as art in a gallery.

The painting is entitled "Molotov". And actually, Susan Meiselas has displayed her photograph, entitled "Esteli, 1979", in galleries and museums on multiple occasions; ("Molotov Man" was how she referred to the figure in the shot). Like lots of crossover photojournalist/artists, she has shown many of her photographs in art galleries for decades.

Please remember to distinguish her photograph from my painting -- this will also help to distinguish Cariou's photographs from Prince's paintings in this discussion. And so: I never displayed her photograph; I displayed my painting. Prince never displayed Cariou's photographs; he displayed his own paintings.

[part 1/2]

3/28/2011 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

[part 2/2, cont'd from part 1]:

Plus this was a single image of which you found online and then cropped to focus only on the molotov cocktail thrower.

Nope: I found the source image for my painting as a pre-cropped, uncredited jpeg, on a blog. I grabbed the entire cropped jpeg and used that as my source image. Sometimes I crop; back then I didn't because the idea was to let the actual paint and act of painting do the transforming...

Prince used many (40, I think) images from the book (and the images were only in book from, not published online, I think).

Prince used a large number of Cariou's Rasta images, all found in the book *Yes Rasta* published in 2000. I think he used 41 or 44 images in all. He also took a large number of Richard Kern's cheesecake photographs and worked them onto the same canvases as the Rasta scans. He did a number of things to tweak those images, transforming them into one-of-a-kind objects, from his mass-produced photographic sources. Prince's work has always commented on mass culture -- it all makes sense.

What's really interesting is that people willfully choose to ignore what Prince did to the images once he scanned them, as if he took Cariou's photographs and nailed them to the gallery walls. So if you never saw them and don't believe me, here's a brief description on the Gogo site: http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/2008-11-08_richard-prince/#

"Some images, scanned from originals, are printed directly onto the base canvas; others are 'dragged on,' using a primitive collage technique whereby printed figures are roughly cut out, then the backs of those figures painted and pasted directly onto the base canvas with a squeegee so that the excess paint squirts out on and around the image. On top of this are violently suggestive swipes and drips of livid paint and scribbles of oil-stick crayon which, together with the comic, abstract sign-features that mask each figure's face...much of what shows up on the surface is incidental to the process."

This brings up something else that's pretty important, and that distinguishes the Cariou photos from the Prince paintings: that thing called "facture" -- the sense of how a painting was made -- what went into it, "the hand", etc., and history, the history of painting and visual media itself. This comparison offers another way to look at Prince's work. For anyone who got to see them in the flesh, their facture was pronounced and inescapable. (This, obviously, does not come across in jpegs). And with straight photography such as Cariou's, there is no facture at all; such photographs opt instead for the myth of "transparency", discarding facture altogether.

That and the fact that mass produced photographs are fundamentally different entities from one-of-a-kind paintings should give anyone pause before jumping to the conclusion that Prince simply took someone's photos and threw them up on the wall and sold them for millions. Hey, now that would be stealing ;-)


cheers,
J

3/28/2011 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@Joy,
You clarified some of the things I (admittingly) was uncertain about. This still does not change my opinion. Even Prince uses the word stealing "I knew what I was stealing 30 years ago but it didn’t matter because no one cared, no one was paying any attention."
source: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/03/richard-prince-in-his-own-words.html

But, I suppose we could say he can't incriminate himself.
I still see it as Prince and Gagosian profiting largely at Cariou's expense and Cariou wanted some of those profits.
Should all artists now be paranoid of being accused of theft? Hell no.
Carou is David beating Goliath.
Why should Goliath always win?

I'm done here though. This could be a dayjob in its own, but it don't pay my bills.
Besides, this is starting to look like a Facebook thread.

3/28/2011 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Why should Goliath always win?

This indeed expresses the real reason why so many people -- artists included -- want to see Prince go down. But it has nothing to do with the case, which is still dangerous precedent.

3/28/2011 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...
"Even Prince uses the word stealing "I knew what I was stealing 30 years ago but it didn’t matter because no one cared, no one was paying any attention."
source: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/03/richard-prince-in-his-own-words.html

But, I suppose we could say he can't incriminate himself."

Confession makes it true by his own admission, and that's really all it takes.


Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...
"Besides, this is starting to look like a Facebook thread."

LOL -- you are *so* right!!!!

3/28/2011 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@ Terri,
I'm not "Anonymous Bernard Klevickas"
I'm just Bernard Klevickas
Hiding in plain sight.

3/28/2011 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Joy, I'm curious -- if an artist photographs your painting and then displays the photograph in a gallery as their own artwork (because, after all, it is a photograph of your painting, not even a painting of your painting, so it's not in the same media, and it's commentary) and of course sells the photograph (actually it's a limited edition print so they sell numerous copies) -- that's okay, right?

Since it expresses the facture inherent in photographic printmaking, and the "eye" of the photographer, it *must* be an entirely valid form of art not subject to copyright protection, according to your argument. Or is it not reflexive -- can a painter take from a photographer, but a photographer may not take from a painter?

3/28/2011 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

hi Terri: yup. Why would anyone confuse a painting with a photo, or vice versa? Two different entities.

But watch out about that 'facture' thing: 'straight' photography pretty much dispenses with facture. It's facture-free. Anything 'fixed' is subject to copyright protection. That means, once it's been made, and is not just an idea in your head, it's copyrighted. But you are talking about exceptions to copyright protection (as in your first para).

3/28/2011 09:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I carefully did not bring Joy up in this discussion, and not out of any fondness or sympathy for Joy. On the contrary.

But since she brought herself into it, I'm going to go ahead and say something I was keeping to myself earlier. Whatever the quality of his legal advice, Prince put himself on the record in a court deposition that Cariou's photos were not art, that their reproductions were Prince's to do with as he pleased, and that he had no intention of crediting or compensating Cariou for providing source material for paintings that would eventually sell for millions of dollars.

According to Joy, the judge's ruling was "lazy" and "disgusting," and its author "doesn't seem to understand very much of anything." The culture of photography is "twisted." (Quite a statement coming from an apologist for contemporary practice. Pot, meet kettle.) This sentence, The laziness and lazy thinking of those who are quick to label Prince as "lazy" IS rather striking, could only have been written by someone who thinks that "I know you are, but what am I?" is an intellectually substantial rebuttal. I'm going to cautiously suggest that the judge can indeed distinguish a photograph from a painting and that the distinction doesn't matter to this case; positing anyone's "blindness" regarding the point may not be entirely helpful or explanatory.

The hubris on display here is astonishing. I think that there's a defensible point somewhere in the pro-appropriation side of this argument, despite my low opinion of Prince's work. But upon reading its rhetoric, I'm wondering instead if there's some connection between the feelings of entitlement exhibited by appropriation artists and their practice of appropriation. Maybe it requires that you go through life with an unearned presumption of rightness and a reflexive disregard for everything that contradicts it.

3/29/2011 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...
"@ Terri,
I'm not "Anonymous Bernard Klevickas"
I'm just Bernard Klevickas
Hiding in plain sight."

Hi Bernard -- lol, the blog post program, when I copy and paste, sometimes adds the "Anonymous" before the name of the poster (it also adds "Anonymous" to anyone posting as Anonymous... ) -- software glitch I guess. : )


Blogger joy said...
"But watch out about that 'facture' thing: 'straight' photography pretty much dispenses with facture. It's facture-free."

Since really the definition of "facture" is the manner in which something is made (especially in regards to a work of art), and since everything made has a manner in which it is made, then no created object is "facture-free", whether implemented by hand or machine.

You may be totally unfamiliar with the photographic process where printing is concerned, but there is tremendous diversity in how a print can be produced -- including choosing substrates, types of emulsion, and many varieties of processing. Maybe to you "straight" photography uses a machine-developed and printed print, but that shows *it's* kind of facture, too.


Anonymous Franklin said...
"But upon reading its rhetoric, I'm wondering instead if there's some connection between the feelings of entitlement exhibited by appropriation artists and their practice of appropriation. Maybe it requires that you go through life with an unearned presumption of rightness and a reflexive disregard for everything that contradicts it."

Yes, except that I might replace the word "rightness" with "entitlement" as well, since "rightness" tends to convey the idea of something being correct socially or morally, and well, this kind of entitlement displays neither.

3/29/2011 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

viz facture: ask elaine sturtevant these questions. shift the inquiry away from the individual and towards the honest nature of creativity. intention is the key issue that informs a practice such as hers, or that of prince, levine, et al. motivation is never the same from artist to artist. addressing the ontological 'nature' of the image or the object is a red herring in a post-medium situation such as ours.

4/04/2011 10:32:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home