An Australian photographer has attacked US artist Richard Prince over allegedly appropriating his work as part of the artist’s latest series of appropriated works, New Portraits. Prince’s controversial manner of working has caused the artist legal issues in the past. With his latest series Prince had used 37 Instagram images for his New Portraits, one of which sold for $90,000.
However, one of the images apparently belongs to Peter Coulson, a renowned Australian fashion photographer with numerous awards to his name, who told The Sydney Morning Herald that he feels “violated” and is considering legal action.
“My reaction was the same every time I see someone using my image without my permission,” Coulson said. “If you’ve ever had your house broken into, you know that feeling that you have in your house that you’ve been violated.”
The photo, of model Alice Kelson, which was taken two years ago, and later posted on Instagram by the model. Kelson is reportedly “furious” at its misuse, and Coulson says he doesn’t have a problem with the model posting it, but was alerted to Prince’s use of it by one his 113,000 Facebook followers who spotted it in a blog post. The photographer claims his Instagram tag has been taken off the image and that Prince would have been aware of the original author of the work.
“If he had done the image and put it up in a gallery not for sale or for sale and donating the profits to a cause that I supported, and credited the people in the shot, the model and myself, I would not have a problem with it,” Coulson says. “But the fact is he wants to hide who the original creators are to create a profit for himself and this controversy is actually allowing him to get bigger so he can charged even more.”
Prince’s series appeared at the Gagosian Gallery in New York last year, and then as part of the Frieze Art Fair in New York, Coulson has also reacted by calling on his followers to rate Frieze New York with a one-star rating on Facebook. “Please help me send a clear message to Frieze Gallery in New York that it’s wrong to display and promote stolen work,” Coulson posted.
“I’m not doing it for the money, I’m doing it for the morals of protecting my property and my copyright. If someone does a copy of the Mona Lisa, everyone screams out plagiarism, don’t they? So where’s the difference for photographers? The whole thing of ‘Oh, if it’s on the internet, it’s free’: I’m sorry it’s not,” he says.
The photographer concluded that he doesn’t want any personal retribution against the artist but added: “All I want is if you want to use my pictures, ask my permission and pay for it. Or don’t use it. That’s all I’m asking. Because to me you’ve bastardised my image – my image isn’t meant to be seen blurred and out of focus with Instagram text written around it. You’ve actually wrecked my picture.”