On a recent trip to the Sydney Aquarium, my friend Annalisa's little daughter India was happy to show off her Piccolo t-shirt (in long sleeve!). And we saw the seals having lunch.
Artist Sues The A.P. Over Obama Image
In a pre-emptive strike, the street artist Shepard Fairey filed a lawsuit on Monday against The Associated Press, asking a federal judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for a now ubiquitous campaign poster image of President Obama.
According to the suit, A.P. officials contacted Mr. Fairey’s studio late last month demanding payment for the use of the photo and a portion of any money he makes from it.
Mr. Fairey’s lawyers, including Anthony T. Falzone, the executive director of the Fair Use Project and a law lecturer at Stanford University, contend in the suit that Mr. Fairey used the photograph only as a reference and transformed it into a “stunning, abstracted and idealized visual image that created powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message” from that of the shot Mr. Garcia took.
The suit asks the judge to declare that Mr. Fairey’s work is protected under fair-use exceptions to copyright law, which allow limited use of copyrighted materials for purposes like criticism or comment.
“Fairey did not do anything wrong,” said Julie A. Ahrens, associate director of the Fair Use Project and another of Mr. Fairey’s lawyers, in a statement on Monday. “He should not have to put up with misguided threats from The A.P.” Paul Colford, a spokesman for The A.P., said on Monday that the agency was “disappointed by the surprise filing by Shepard Fairey and his company and by Mr. Fairey’s failure to recognize the rights of photographers in their works.”
He added: “A.P. was in the middle of settlement discussions with Mr. Fairey’s attorney last week in order to resolve this amicably and made it clear that a settlement would benefit the A.P. Emergency Relief Fund, a charitable fund that supports A.P. journalists around the world who suffer personal loss from natural disasters and conflicts.”
Mr. Fairey, 38, has become one of the most visible practitioners of a guerrilla-style art that has grown out of the graffiti scene but has expanded beyond paint to include a wide variety of techniques and materials, producing works usually displayed illegally on buildings and signs.
Mr. Fairey decided to create the image on his own before contacting the Obama campaign, which welcomed it but never officially adopted it because of copyright concerns. Before the election, Mr. Fairey was best known for his fake-advertising stickers and posters, pasted in cities across the country, showing an ominous, abstracted image of the wrestler Andre the Giant along with the word “Obey.”
Mr. Fairey is the focus of a retrospective that opened last week at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. (In a development that was not much of a surprise, he was arrested there on Friday, accused of illegally pasting his work in places around Boston; he has pleaded not guilty.) A collaged work made by Mr. Fairey based on his Obama poster was acquired last month by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, part of the Smithsonian Institution, and placed in its permanent collection.
After Mr. Obama’s victory, speculation increased about which picture had served as the basis for Mr. Fairey’s posters. In interviews the artist said that it was one he had found on the Internet. Bloggers, including the Manhattan gallery owner James Danziger, pursued several leads until, according to the lawsuit, Tom Gralish, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, helped track down a photo by Mr. Garcia that showed Mr. Obama sitting beside the actor George Clooney at a 2006 event about Darfur at the National Press Club.
Further complicating the dispute, Mr. Garcia contends that he, not The Associated Press, owns the copyright for the photo, according to his contract with the The A.P. at the time. In a telephone interview on Monday, Mr. Garcia said he was unsure how he would proceed now that the matter had landed in court. But he said he was very happy when he found out that his photo was the source of the poster image and that he still is.
“I don’t condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet,” Mr. Garcia said. “But in this case I think it’s a very unique situation.”
He added, “If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had.”
Thursday's opening was a big success with Graham's largest work Head+land getting a lot of attention. See comments below.
Some more works from the show (below).
My friend Annalisa's five-year-old is such a sweetheart and a great artist. This is her drawing of little Piccolo.
This is my lovely school friend Linda (pictured left) from Brisbane who bought some I Love Whales for herself and her daughters Inez (middle) and Tabby (right).
Not what I was expecting, but really impressed, and loved reading about the process. Very honest too (that you don't know what you're going to get).
Head+land was striking, very volcanic (which I'm sure everyone has said). You could almost see (and feel) lava flowing ... the images kept morphing the more you looked at it. The global warming/shifting coastline was abundantly clear to my yobbo eye. I loved it.
I actually like Shore+line even more though. I liked their striking simplicity, but even moreso than Head+land, the more you looked at it the more they morphed. I was at the beach up the coast on the weekend and I can see the shifting sands in the work, but in these I almost felt like I was looking at clouds, they kept changing and you could see in them what you wanted. Maybe because I've been reading so many children's books, but I was seeing dragons and demons. The burnt red/black ones almost felt like a furnace, almost the inside of a bushfire (again, I could see animals dying), while the black and white felt like the aftermath, like ash and animals spirits' fleeing. It's probably not what you meant, but it's what I saw.
Anyway, I loved it. I was staring at them for ages. You're an awesomely talented artist. Your stuff conceptually is really simple, but when seen through the Browny prism you get much more complex layers.
These abstract paintings of maps touch on two major issues at the moment — land ownership and climate change.
Countries and their boundaries are constantly shifting due to climate change, government change, religion-based conflicts, poverty, and migration. Countries (at least in name) come and go as the seasons.
But despite this constant shift, maps are sold as literal pictures of permanence and stability … of concreteness. These same maps are held up by governments as motivation in their fight over land. Such conflicts raise a lot of questions — how do we define land? Can it really be owned? Are these maps proper evidence of ownership? Are we defined by these borders or by the people living within them?
Secondly, on an environmental level, these painted maps attempt to evoke the changing nature of land due to global warming. Today’s coastline will not be the same tomorrow. This state of flux is why I did away with paintbrushes. Instead I would balance the colour (or shoreline) as one covered another. That in turn would move another across the canvas eroding away the coastline.
The beauty of the method is that the painting keeps evolving after I've finished during the drying process. The different colours dry at different rates and form contours and crevices as in topography, which adds to the theme of mapping.
I get one shot at each painting so they are a good example of capturing a moment in time. And I only have a general idea about what I'm painting before it's finished which is the reverse of what I do with portraiture. So it's a leap of faith because there's no changing the artwork after the event.
The paint, which is mixed especially with maximum pigment to give it intensity and which makes it flow more quickly, is poured straight from the can. I then tilt the horizontal canvas to get the desired effect. However the whole painting moves at once, so what I do at one end will affect everything else.