Saturday, January 15, 2011


In the above video, The Tricky Twister instructs us in one of the basic techniques of balloon sculpture, Making a simple balloon doggie. Go out and get some balloons and follow the simple instructions and in a matter of minutes, you could be in line for the a major lawsuit...
I have done many posts regarding the rights of artists to reference other art and popular culture in the creation of new art. Picasso had an entire period that involved using the work of Velesquez as a jumping off point...Dali gladly acknowledged Millet as a primary inspiration in his works inspired by Millets, Angelus.
Today, though, the biggest artists have seem to have become the biggest pirates. I have to admit that though I never liked the art of Jeff Koons, I admired the way he promoted himself. That to me was his art. The ultimate self promotion. Now Koons has become just a impersonal brand name...a vehicle to make corporate bucks...
Jeff Koon's balloon doggies on the roof of the Museum of Modern Art NYC
Lawyers representing Jeff Koons, the pop artist known for remixing common objects and other peoples' art, have demanded that San Francisco's Park Life stop selling book-ends that look like balloon dogs. Koons's lawyers argue that since Koons once produced a set of iconic statues of balloon dogs, all representations of balloon dogs are henceforth Koons's exclusive purview, and anyone who makes or sells a balloon dog infringes on Koons's copyright.

I always say that every pirate wishes he was an admiral, but it's not often that you get as clear an example as this: having built a career on the flexibilities in copyright law that allow artists to make transformative use of the works around them, Koons now wishes to terminate those flexibilities and award himself exclusive rights over all the works he's made, and the works that inspired them.

This is a textbook case of why artists who argue against copyright flexibilities should be viewed with great skepticism; like the established fashion designers who say that it's unfair that clothing patterns don't qualify for copyright (and never mind the fact that all these designers benefited enormously from the right to copy popular designs when they were starting out), Koons believes that copyright flexibilities should only apply to him, and not to the artists who come after him.
balloon doggie book ends

Lawyers of American artist Jeff Koons issued a cease-and-desist letter to Park Life, a small San Francisco store and gallery, asking them to stop selling and advertising their balloon dog bookends.
Michael Jackson And Bubbles, Jeff Koons, 1988
Can Koons own something that existed before him? Also considering that the artist has based his whole career on appropriating pop culture and has been repeatedly sued for inappropriately using others' copyrighted images.


darkblack said...

Yeah, well, f*ck Jeff Koons...A series of passing whims lavishly executed by others and ruthlessly self-promoted does not an artist make, necessarily.

That said, it's not like I'm in a position to claim any sort of originality - my racket (when I indulged) consisted of one minor part rampantly piratical recontextualization using found images, and three major parts waiting for the Muse to fish-slap me...Which she did, and I dood, and thus empires fell and the wicked trembled - not.


microdot said...

DarkBlack, I should really include your piece here..
your photoshop stuff makes me wet 'em!