01.20.06 - ARTNET reports that Jeff Koons has won a legal dispute over the usage of a fashion photo in his piece Niagara, 2000.
The neo-Pop artist, who famously appealed his 1988 String of Puppies copyright-infringement case all the way to the Supreme Court (See below for summery of this landmark case)—and lost—has been dragged into court once again for copying another artist's work.
For a seven-painting commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Koons drew on part of a photograph taken by Andrea Blanch titled Silk Sandals by Gucci and published in Allure magazine.
In his decision, judge Louis L. Stanton of US District Court found that Niagara was indeed a "transformative use" of Blanch's photograph. Blanch, a twenty-year veteran of the photo world, has filed to appeal the ruling.Jeff Koons Vitals:
Jeff Koons AKA Jeffrey Koons
Birthplace: York, PA
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Sculptor, Painter
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Artistic hack, Cicciolina's ex-husband
Father: Henry (interior decorator)
Wife: Cicciolina (m. 1991, div. 1992)
Son: Ludwig Maximilian Koons (b. 1992)
University: Maryland Institute College of Art
University: Art Institute of Chicago
French Legion of Honor
String of Puppies (1988)
Wood painted sculpture
The String of Puppies Case
Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992), is a leading U.S. court case on copyright, dealing with the fair use defense for parody. The Court found that an artist copying a photo could not be protected when there was no clear need to imitate the photo for parody.
Art Rogers is a professional photographer who took a black and white photo of a man and a woman with their arms full of puppies. The photograph was simply entitled "Puppies" and was used on greeting cards and other generic merchandise.
Jeff Koons, a famous artist, found the picture on a postcard and wanted to make a sculpture based on the picture for an art show on the theme of banality of everyday items. After removing the copyright label from the post card, he gave the picture to his assistants with instructions on how to model the sculpture. He asked that as much detail be copied as possible, though the puppies were to be made blue, their noses exaggerated, and flowers to be added to the hair of the man and woman.
The sculpture, entitled "String of Puppies," became a success, and Koon sold three of them for $367,000.
Upon discovering that his picture had been copied, Rogers sued Koons and the Sonnabend Gallery for copyright infringement. Koons admitted to having intentionally copied the image but attempted to claim fair use by parody.
Opinion of the Court
The Court found both "substantial similarity" and that there was access to the picture. The similarity was so close that the average lay person would recognize the copying. Thus the sculpture was found to infringe Rogers' copyright.
On the issue of fair use, the court rejected the parody argument, as Koons could have expressed the parody of the puppies without directly copying Rogers' "Puppies" photo. Koons' work was not commenting directly on the work itself, but rather on a general idea, so there was no need to copy.
keywords: Jeff Koons Niagara, 2000. neo-Pop artist, 1988 String of Puppies, copyright-infringement Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Andrea Blanch, Silk Sandals by Gucci,