For his series “Banality” the most expensive contemporary artist used objects and images that can be seen in shops and the press. It turned out that he was just copying other people’s photos and advertisements.
Former creative director of the French clothing brand Naf Naf Franck Davidovici sued the American artist Jeff Koons. According to the Frenchman, Koons copied the heroes of the 1985 Naf Naf ad campaign for his sculpture Fait D’Hive. Davidovici requires compensation of 300 thousand euros for copyright infringement.
In advertising, which was produced by Davidovici, a pig runs to the girl lying in the snow. The sculpture, which Koons introduced in 1988, depicts a woman who looks like the heroine of the campaign–she lies in front of a pig and penguins. The artist also retained the title: both advertising and sculpture are called Fait D’Hiver. In 2007, the Prada fund bought one of the versions of the work for $4.2 million.
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As reported by The Art Newspaper, Davidovici filed a lawsuit in 2015, but the first meeting was held only on September 24, 2018. For the first time, the Frenchman saw the sculpture of Koons in the catalog of the Pompidou Center in Paris in 2014. After Davidovici drew attention to this work, it was removed from the exposition. The Prada Foundation and Pompidou Center also act as defendants in the suit. Alain Seban, who at that time headed the Pompidou Center, said that the entire series of Koon’s “Banality,” which includes Fait D’Hiver, is based on objects and images that are found in stores, the press.
Koons was accused of plagiarism before. In 1992, photographer Art Rogers discovered that the artist copied his picture for another sculpture from the series “Banality.” Roger sued and won the case.
In 2017, Koons was in the middle of two scandals because of copyright infringement. First, the court ordered the artist to pay 46 thousand euros to the widow of photographer Jean-François Bauret, whose picture Koons repeated in his sculpture “Naked”. Then it turned out that the huge inflatable sculpture “Seated Ballerina”, which was temporarily installed in the center of New York, is a complete copy of the porcelain figurine of the “Ballerina Lenochka” by Ukrainian artist Oksana Znikrup.
Koons is one of the most expensive modern artists; his works are sold for tens of millions of dollars. However, most of the sculptures are made not by Koons, but by employees of his office Jeff Koons LLC. The artist himself claimed that he works primarily on the computer.