Rephotography - OR - Richard Prince is a Collage Artist

Sonic_Nurse.jpg (200 × 196 pixels)
Nurse painting "Sonic Nurse" on Sonic Youth music album cover.

Richard Prince recently scored big at a recent Christies auction according to Bloomberg and other accounts. His work "Piney Woods Nurse" (2002) sold for more than $6 million!! That is a nice stash of cash by all accounts. I had read these auction reports and didn't recognize his name. I visited wiki and turns out Richard Prince is an appropriation artist, and the piece "Piney Woods Nurse" consists of a base of pulp fiction origin painted over. The following is a quote from the wiki page:

"Actual covers of books were scanned to create the foundation for the paintings—the titles and the images of the nurses. They are ink jet print on canvas with acrylic overlay and are fairly large in scale.

Richard Prince used the technique of modern rephotography and this series is notable for the technique of layering digital and analogue media: the application of an analogue medium (acrylic) to a digitalized print (ink jet) of a digitalized image (scan) of an analogue print (book cover) of an analogue artwork (original art portrayed on the book cover)."

Actual book covers were scanned. And then printed. And this was okay and not a breach of copyright law? I have to ask this every single time I assess and study a collage work-- in order to try to understand the legalities of it all. This was certainly a copyrighted book that was scanned, and yet it was legal for him to output it to his home printer and rework it?? That is essentially the name of my game and is really the same thing that I recently did with a photo on flickr. The photographer was annoyed and felt I should not have used his photo that I output cut up and appropriated. I just can't see the difference here.
Oh wait! I DO see a difference. This is "Richard Prince" and I am simply Julie Sadler!! This is not a time for sarcasm actually. I am serious. Where is there a difference?

This Richard Prince wiki article mentiones "the technique of modern rephotography" which I am going to have to look into. I use a lot of photos and digital prints in my work, I wonder if this is a term for what I do...

I took heart to this report. Inside me somewhere there was this collage doubting aspect...the strange doubt that collage somehow isn't as worthy as painting...It's my own inner geek, but I think at this point it should be a mute point. Collage and appropriation art is very much in our culture and looks like it's here to stay. With Richard Prince pieces commanding $6+ million, I need to put these silly thoughts to rest.

OH BOY, this is an unfolding post. It's back to copyrights again! I went to wiki to get the image of Piney woods for this blog and was confronted with this statement by Wiki...
"This image is of a cover of an audio recording, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the album or the artist(s) which produced the recording or cover artwork in question. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of such covers

* solely to illustrate the audio recording in question,
* on the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation,

qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other uses of this image, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, may be copyright infringement. See Wikipedia:Non-free content for more information.

To the uploader: please add a detailed fair use rationale for each use, as described on Wikipedia: Non-free use rationale guideline, as well as the source of the work and copyright information. For an example fair use rationale, see here.


Album cover from Sonic Youth's Sonic Nurse.

Derived from a scan of the album cover (creator of this digital version is irrelevant as the copyright in all equivalent images is still held by the same party) Copyright held by the record company or the artist. Claimed as fair use regardless.

Portion used

Front cover only. No other artwork from the album (e.g. back cover, inner liner notes) is used.
Low resolution?

Is only as much resolution necessary to identify and show the style of artwork used for the album, not enough to be used for piracy.
Purpose of use

Illustrates the appearance of the album and identifies it by recognized features.

No other image can illustrate the appearance of the album. Any other images would feature the same exact artwork.
Other information Image in this form is already widely distributed to identify the album as part of catalogs and reviews, so we degrade no market value by providing it ourselves"

Apparently wiki is covering it's own ass regarding the posting of the image and they recommend I do the same... (To the uploader: please add a detailed fair use rationale for each use, as described on Wikipedia: Non-free use rationale guideline, as well as the source of the work and copyright information. For an example fair use rationale, see here.) Was that comment for me? Am I the uploader, or is the article poster the uploader?>?
I am using the image to illustrate my article and show what piece sold for 6 mill. That's all!


Anonymous said...

The more work you do, especially if it is any good, the more sh*t you are going to get. I guarantee it. So keep up the good fight.


julie said...

ya know, I think you are right. Their is a strange artist envy factor, where you sort of get jealous inside of someone else' s success or good work...
Striving for the top ain't easy!

Mick said...

Regarding the image to illustrate your review? This is a perfectly FAIR USE of the image. As I've hinted before in this running conversation, the chilling effect on creativity is the real crime here. In transformative works, including Prince's, there is plenty of legal precedent on the side of the creative artist. What always angers me is that these would-be copyright controllers continue to go after the little guy instead of the real pirates and infringers - against whom they know they are unlikely to be successful.

Anonymous said...

where can i buy a nurse series poster??

spiritual_curator said...

Ummm...Prince's work is NOT covered by fair use, and is not particularly transformative. We'll see what happens with Patrick Cariou (who produces fine art photography...oh, yeah, isn't that what prince supposedly does??).

The way prince gets aways with what he does is either:

a.) Steal quietly from people like the bikers who don't pay any attention to art or:

b.) Steal from people like the artists who painted the original nurse covers, who are either dead or don't realize what he's doing.

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.