This week’s forum looked at the issue of appropriation and the court case involving Richard Prince and Phillip Cariou. Below are my thoughts and posting.
While the court found that for all but 5 of the 30 appropriated works Prince had sufficiently transformed them, I find it difficult to agree. I also find it difficult to swallow that because Cariou only made $8000 and Prince made over $10 million that somehow factored into the evaluation that made it all right for Prince to have appropriated the work of Cariou.
At the risk of straying slightly for a moment from the principal question being asked, I personally find it sad and unfair that someone like Prince can be so lazy in the creation of his work, and I have to say that I am amazed that there are people with more money than sense who will pay more than $1 million for this (in my opinion) tripe. But then this is the world we have come to in which style often trumps substance and that monetary value somehow bestows legitimacy as good art. As many art auctions in recent years have shown, the price paid for art is more often a reflection of the ego of the buyer and their desire to “one-up” the last obscene price paid for a piece of art so as to have bragging rights; until the next auction at least. The link below is to a Guardian article article titled “Art prices at ‘obscene’ levels as Chinese join high-spending elite.”
A second article from New Republic in 2013 also address this subject.
And now to bring the discussion back to the original question; Prince, the galleries that display his work and the buyers of his work basically have by their actions condoned the misappropriation of Cariou’s work. Ignorance, the allure of money and an overall erosion of ethical behaviour are evident in my mind and the fact that a high court has also given its blessing still doesn’t make it right.