Thursday, February 8, 2007

photography + plagiarism

take a peek at slate's cover story today. it deals with photography and plagiarism and cites some interesting little case studies on the matter.

these images illustrate the example of artist jeff koons getting sued over the creation of this sculpture from a found photograph in the early '90s. here's what slate's david segal has to say:

"kitsch maestro jeff koons was sued by a photographer who'd taken a snapshot of a couple holding a litter of german shepherd puppies. koons turned the picture, which he'd found on a postcard, into a purposefully tacky sculpture and sold three of them for a total of $367,000. koons claimed in court that his work was a good-natured parody of banal note-card pictures. a panel of appeals court judges saw something else: a copy done in bad faith, primarily to make money. koons settled in 1992 for an undisclosed sum. to the art establishment, the plaintiff was an opportunist who didn't get it—the "it" here being the notion that everything on the planet is potential raw material for art."

so, hmmm, exactly where is the line between art's commercial and social value in contemporary life? (please chime in here, i'd really love to hear what other people have to say on this topic.)

it's interesting to me how the court defines the sculpture strictly as a commodity, ignoring any case for its cultural viability. for me koon's work, while i may not like it, is certainly addressing something that happens in the translation between the photograph and the sculpture. he's questioning that space between
vernacular and rarefied objects, 2-dimensions and 3-dimensions, reality and fantasy, popular culture and art to name a few. so he certainly gives us plenty to think about. does anyone still value this?

a big thanks to eric for spotting the article on slate this morning.