Monday, 14 November 2011

What does Jeff Koons have to do with the XPACE Window Space?

Above: Laura Paolini's I'm Tired of Being Fucked, 2011; below: Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog, 1994-2000

This month, from November 18th, XPACE's window space will be showing a piece by Toronto artist Laura Paolini that references artist Jeff Koons' attempt to sue San Francisco gallery Park Life, and Toronto design company Imm-Living for copyright violation. Imm-Living manufactured a pair of bookends that look like dogs made from children's party balloons, which Koons claimed copied his series of sculptures that also imitate the shape of dogs made of balloons. His pieces are, however, in a much larger scale, and made of shiny metal. The irony is that Koons is known for reproducing versions of images from mass culture and other people's work, for which he has been sued four times.  Here is a little more information about Koons' long history of suing and being sued for copyright.

[caption id="attachment_1864" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="above: Imm-Living's Big Top bookends"][/caption]

Many will be familiar with Koons' first and most famous run-in with the law. In 1992, Koons was sued for copyright infringement by Art Rogers, a photographer whose work usually appeared on greeting cards and consumer items. Koons created a sculpture, entitled String of Puppies, that was a 3-D reproduction of one of Rogers' greeting card images. Koons lost this case, despite arguing that String of Puppies was a parody and not a copy of Rogers' photograph.

above: Jeff Koons' String of Puppies, 1988; below: Art Rogers' Puppies, 1980

Koons lost two more copyright cases, United Features Syndicate, Inc. vs. Koons and Campbell vs. Koons, both in 1993.

Above: Andrea Blanch's magazine photograph; below: Jeff Koons' Niagara, 2000.

In 2006, he finally won a case against photographer Andrea Blanch, whose photograph Koons had used as the basis for part of a painting.

In the most recent case, against Park Life and Imm-Living, Koons has turned the tables, suing somebody else for supposedly using his idea. The lawyers for the gallery and manufacturer responded with a U.S. federal complaint that, among many other gems, states: "As virtually any clown can attest, no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain." More excerpts and information about the suit can be found here, and here.

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