NEW YORK — Is it selfie-ish to make a profit off of strangers’ Instagram photos?
Richard Prince did just that, and it’s drawing a lot of negative reaction.
The painter and photographer blew up screenshots of other people’s Instagrams, hung them at the Frieze Art Fair in New York and reportedly sold almost all of them for $90,000 each.
Prince called his exhibit “New Portraits,” and the fact that he sold photos without the permission or even the knowledge of many of the original photographers is not sitting well with some people.
“New Portraits” originally went up last year at the Gagosian Gallery, but it was the sale of the pieces this month that has had a negative development for the man who has been “rephotographing” for years, taking pictures of other photographs and altering them.
The issue has prompted a conversation about copyright and fair use, a debate that Prince has found himself in the center of before.
The Washington Post reports that in 2008, “French photographer Patrick Cariou sued Prince after he re-photographed Cariou’s images of Jamaica’s Rastafarian community. Although Cariou won at first, on appeal, the court ruled that Prince had not committed copyright infringement because his works were ‘transformative.’ ”
Ron Jude on Richard Prince. Eloquent, succinct, and true. pic.twitter.com/tZgFOekGKd
— Harper's Books (@harpersbooks) May 26, 2015
One Instagram user whose photo was used by Prince said she has no intention of going after him legally.
View this post on Instagram
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
Prince, who has not compensated any of the original photographers, has been retweeting some of the criticism and offered up some of his own thoughts.