In Brief

Artist sells Instagram pics without photographers' permission

Richard Prince attacked for selling Instagram users' images for $90,000, but it's not against the law

150527-prince.jpg

Controversial artist Richard Prince has been accused of "stealing" other people's Instagram photos and selling them at an exhibition without their permission. US painter and photographer, Prince, blew up screenshots of images taken from Instagram and inkjet printed them on canvases for his series titled New Portraits, which showed at the Frieze Art Fair in New York this month.

Some of the 38 images are of models and celebrities, but many feature unknown women in sexually provocative poses. They were shown at the Gagosian Gallery in New York and sold for $90,000 each, reports Michael Zhang on photography news website Peta Pixel. Zhang says Prince is "notorious" in the art world for taking other people's work and "appropriating" it as his own with various changes.

Many have expressed outrage at Prince's methods. In an article on website Artnet, entitled Richard Prince Sucks, Paddy Johnson describes Prince as a "troll" and says: "There's no reason for the reproductions to exist, except to make Prince a little cash."

But how is this possible or legal? In this instance, it seems Prince has bypassed copyrighting laws by removing the images' original Instagram captions and adding his own words.

It's a timely reminder from Prince that what you post is public, writes Jessica Contrera in the Washington Post, "and, given the flexibility of copyright laws, can be shared — and sold — for anyone to see".

It's not the first time Prince has caused controversy. The artist has been "re-photographing" work since the 1970s and has run into legal trouble before.

In 2008, French photographer Patrick Cariou sued Prince after he re-photographed Cariou's images of Jamaica's Rastafarian community. Cariou won at first, but on appeal, the court ruled that Prince had not committed copyright infringement because his works were "transformative".

By making slight changes to the images, Prince is legally entitled to call them his work. And this is what he's done with the Instagram works. Prince also seems to have anticipated the backlash and has been retweeting and reposting his many critics.

Hate the Instagram works all you want, writes Nate Freeman on Vulture. "But you have to admit they feel very at home at an art fair." The self-obsession and need for constant 'like'-based affirmation is everywhere here, says Freeman. And Prince's way of commenting on celebrity culture can be liberally applied here.

And the punters loved them, adds Freeman. Just a few hours into the VIP collectors preview, all were sold except for one.

Recommended

Nasjonalmuseet of Norway: a cultural renaissance in Oslo
National Museum of Norway, Oslo 
Behind the scenes

Nasjonalmuseet of Norway: a cultural renaissance in Oslo

Between the Sheets: Turner’s Nudes
Nude Swiss Girl and a Companion on a Bed (1802)
In Review

Between the Sheets: Turner’s Nudes

How Instagram’s makeover has alienated users
A woman looks at her smartphone
Why we’re talking about . . .

How Instagram’s makeover has alienated users

Art review: Milton Avery – American Colourist
Milton Avery, Little Fox River, 1942
In Review

Art review: Milton Avery – American Colourist

Popular articles

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2022

The Week Footer Banner