Thursday, December 06, 2007

If the Copy Is an Artwork, Then What’s the Original?

(Jim Krantz)

Interesting little piece in the NY Times about Richard Prince's high priced appropriations of Marlboro Man ads etc into his conceptual photography and his show at the Guggenheim.

Mind you, this isn't exactly news, or something new within the photography and art world - think everything from Warhol's soup cans to Sherry Levine's rephotographed Evans' to Misrach's Playboy and painting re-photographs and more. And what tends to happen in discussions following on from this is a number of photographers getting all up in arms about the unethical ( and/or illegal) misappropriation of images - which gets a bit boring after a while (though perhaps the courtesy of a credit??).

(Richard Prince)

I should add that Prince's photography has never really done it for me, though I can see his appeal. And as an afterthought, it would be fun to see him do this with some of your typical national Geographic stereotype photographs....
"Since the late 1970s, when Richard Prince became known as a pioneer of appropriation art — photographing other photographs, usually from magazine ads, then enlarging and exhibiting them in galleries — the question has always hovered just outside the frames: What do the photographers who took the original pictures think of these pictures of their pictures, apotheosized into art but without their names anywhere in sight?

Recently a successful commercial photographer from Chicago named Jim Krantz was in New York and paid a quick visit to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where Mr. Prince is having a well-regarded 30-year retrospective that continues through Jan. 9.

But even before Mr. Krantz entered the museum’s spiral, he was stopped short by an image on a poster outside advertising the show, a rough-hewn close-up of a cowboy’s hat and outstretched arm.
Mr. Krantz knew it quite well. He had shot it in the late 1990s on a ranch in the small town of Albany, Tex., for a Marlboro advertisement. “Like anyone who knows his work,” Mr. Krantz said of his picture in a telephone interview, “it’s like seeing yourself in a mirror.” He did not investigate much further to see if any other photos hanging in the museum might be his own, but said of his visit that day, “When I left, I didn’t know if I should be proud, or if I looked like an idiot.”...

...But with the exhibition now up at the Guggenheim — and the posters using his image on sale for $9.95 — he said he simply wanted viewers to know that “there are actually people behind these images, and I’m one of them.”
“I’m not a mean person, and I’m not a vindictive person,” he said. “I just want some recognition, and I want some understanding.”...

...Mr. Krantz said he considered his ad work distinctive, not simply the kind of anonymous commercial imagery that he feels Mr. Prince considers it to be. “People hire me to do big American brands to help elevate their images to these kinds of iconic images,” he said.

He has considered trying to correspond with Mr. Prince to complain more directly but said he felt it would probably do no good. “At this point it’s been done, and it’s out there,” he said. “My whole issue with this, truly, is attribution and recognition. It’s an unusual thing to see an artist who doesn’t create his own work, and I don’t understand the frenzy around it.”

He added: “If I italicized ‘Moby-Dick,’ then would it be my book? I don’t know. But I don’t think so.” ... More here

And a final comment: "Mr. Prince declined to comment for this article, saying in an e-mail message only, “I never associated advertisements with having an author.”" :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it very surprising that the artist can get away with this. What exactly has he added? Can he claim that his art is in the arrangement of these on the gallery wall? There's no mention of that in the article.

If he was sued for selling prints of work to which he does not own the copyright, why would the law treat him differently to, say, someone selling unauthorised prints of any of the other artworks in the museum?