There seems to be a fine line between art and theft – at least for contemporary artist and painter Richard Prince, who is under fire for bizarrely stretching the concept of intellectual ownership for his own means.
The controversial artist, who has previously been credited for stealing Sam Abell’s cowboy image from a Marlboro ad in 1977,Garry Gross’ image of Brooke Shields in 1983 and Patrick Cariou’s photos in 2008, is now making money off other people’s Instagram posts without their consent.
His most recent exhibit “New Portraits” which he displayed at Frieze Art Fair in New York City was actually a collection of 6-foot-tall, eye catching, blown-up shots of random people’s selfies and candid pictures.
All these pictures were taken off Instagram and re-photographed without permission from their original owners – or subjects, in this case. What’s even more outrageous is that the 65-year-old sold each of these portraits for more than $90,000.
Talk about easy money!
Granted, the images posted on social media are on a public domain and can be used by anyone, but Prince appears to have bypassed copyrighting laws by removing the images' original Instagram captions and adding a comment from @richardprince1234 – his own account.
Doe Deere, one of the Instagram users whose photograph was reproduced without her permission and subsequently sold for an enormous profit, said she’s not going to "go after him" for a share of the money.
The founder and CEO of Lime Crime Makeup also shared her original Instagram post, explaining the doll in the picture was made by her friend Joshua David McKenney, who also wasn’t credited in Prince’s work.
Figured I might as well post this since everyone is texting me. Yes, my portrait is currently displayed at the Frieze Gallery in NYC. Yes, it's just a screenshot (not a painting) of my original post. No, I did not give my permission and yes, the controversial artist Richard Prince put it up anyway. It's already sold ($90K I've been told) during the VIP preview. No, I'm not gonna go after him. And nope, I have no idea who ended up with it! ?? #lifeisstrange #modernart #wannabuyaninstagrampicture
“Yes, my portrait is currently displayed at the Frieze Gallery in NYC. Yes, it's just a screenshot (not a painting) of my original post. No, I did not give my permission and yes, the controversial artist Richard Prince put it up anyway,” she stated on her social media account.
Meanwhile, Prince doesn’t think he has done anything wrong. In fact, the technique of "re-photographing" is actually fair use, according to the copyright laws.
“I don't see any difference now between what I collect and what I make,” he said.