Patrick Cariou vs. Richard Prince
Richard Prince is an artist who has recently generated turmoil within the art world. Some argue that his work is not original given its use of photographic material produced by other artists. Prince used the artists Patrick Cariou photographs in a series and painting and other works.
In March 2011, Manhattan federal court judge Deborah Batts ruled against Richard Prince and the Gagosian Gallery. Patrick Cariou originally filed suit for copyright infringement against Prince, Larry Gagosian, Gagosian Gallery, and Rizzoli books in December 2008 after a number of his photographs were reappropriated without consent in Prince’s “Canal Zone” series. The photographs first appeared in Cariou’s 2000 publication, “Yes, Rasta” a photographic book produced after spending six years documenting Jamaican Rastafarians. Prince had used 41 images from the book for a series of artworks called “Canal Zone,” which were featured in a Gagosian show that opened in December 2007. Prince had never requested permission by Cariou to use his photographs in his artworks which sold for approximately 10 million. Judge Batts rejected the defense put forward by Prince and Gagosian that the artworks were “transformative” — thus constituting fair use — In her ruling, the judge also demanded that all works and materials relating to Prince’s “Canal Zone” be destructed.
Left: Photographs by Patrick Cariou. Right: Richard Prince’s appropriation of the photographs
As appropriation is one of the most widespread forms of artistic expression this decision will greatly affect the art community.
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