Artist Inspired By Andy Warhol, Creates Truly Astounding Work… Ends Up Giving It Away Over 'Copyright Infringement'

from the copyright-suppressing-artists dept

Well, here’s yet another crazy story of copyright interfering with art (ht to Jean for sending this over). Buckle in, because there’s a lot to explain, starting with some truly astounding art, followed by more truly astounding art, with an extra helping of even more astounding art… and then an apparent claim of copyright infringement. What follows is truly amazing work by artist CJ Hendry. Most of this is taken from a long Instagram story in which she documented this entire process, so forgive the image heavy explanation here, but it helps to explain what happened — so I’ll include some explanatory screenshots.

She started with a bunch of Andy Warhol’s famous Polaroids, cutting them out of the book of such photographs, and then sketched amazingly accurate renditions of them.

That, alone was incredibly impressive, but then she took it much further. She took her own drawings and crumpled up the papers:

… and then drew new images of her crumpled up drawings of the original polaroids:

Then, she made t-shirts featuring her drawings of the crumpled up drawings that she made replicating Andy Warhol’s Polaroids:

If you’re not in awe already, you should be. But Hendry kept going. Since this was all an homage to Andy Warhol, she took the homage even further and made up her own Campbell’s style soup labels, put them on cans and put the t-shirts into the cans.

She was intending to sell each of the t-shirts in the cans, which would have been amazing… but then, copyright (maybe?) apparently got in the way.

It’s not entirely clear who stepped in — Hendry insists it was not the Warhol Foundation — but suddenly that the sale has been cancelled:

If you can’t read that, it says:

Thanks to everyone for the lovely messages about the tees sorry for letting you all down.

Believe it or not it had nothing to do with the Warhol Foundation, another organization completely.

Just for lolls I will probably bring out a tee as a massive spoof of the whole thing because why the heck not.

Stay tuned…

So, instead of selling them, she packed up each of these amazing cans, placed them in bright red boxes, labeled “Copyright Infringement — Trash Only”:

…and then has been placing them randomly around New York City for people to find, posting pictures (and addresses) on Instagram. I’m actually going to New York City in two days and am pissed off I’m going too late to find one of these amazing boxes and t-shirts.

Again, it’s not entirely clear who is behind this. The book publisher Taschen published the book of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids, so perhaps they have a copyright interest here? The only other one I can think of would be Campbell’s Soup, though that would be crazy. Of course, a decade ago, we wrote about the letter that Campbell’s Soup sent to Warhol back in 1964, joking that if Warhol had tried to do the same thing today, he undoubtedly would have received a cease and desist from a humorless corporate trademark lawyer. Instead, Campbell’s celebrated Warhol’s creativity:

It is too bad that the modern equivalent has been shut down via at least some sort of intellectual property threat.

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Comments on “Artist Inspired By Andy Warhol, Creates Truly Astounding Work… Ends Up Giving It Away Over 'Copyright Infringement'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow. "Astounding." The treasures we've lost. What a shame.

“Always” huh? You sound like a child that constantly overplays their hand.

That said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder… the same is said for distaste. While I generally disagree with avoiding the mocking of peoples artwork, I bet there are certain works of art you would mock as well.

Truly, To each his own!

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

HEY. I crumpled up food boxes and threw away tin cans just yesterday! I’d better go dig out that Masnickal ART!


I guessing that I would consider any "art" you’ve created to be garbage in my eyes too, Blue.

By the way, your hypocrisy is showing again, Blue. You consonantly are saying incorrect things like "the purpose and intent of copyright law is protect Creators" and here where an actual creator is getting screwed by copyright, it’s all okay with you because YOU don’t consider it "art".
You seem to be getting more foolish with every passing day.

MikeVx (profile) says:

Copyright seems much more likea problem than a solution.

Setting aside the issue of copies, the primary use of copyright has become the suppression of creativity of the many in the name of profit for a few, as the article gives an example of.

Another recent example: I had been enjoying Lucas the Spider, and the three parts that managed to get out of Daddy Spider, which I found an amusing spin-off that was going I-don’t-know-where. And now, thanks to asshattery on the part of the creator of Lucas the Spider, I never will find out where Daddy Spider might have gone. This is just one in an innumerable quantity of creative works lost to a system that was ostensibly meant to increase the quantity of human culture. The practical upshot of this is that, on top of the loss of the Daddy Spider story, my enthusiasm for Lucas the Spider has disintegrated. I will hold this against whatever company releases the TV show, if it actually gets that far.

The “derivative works” portion of copyright law is counter to human culture. Our legends and folk tales evolved by people inventing stories, then others embellishing them or putting completely different spins on them. This is how human culture operates. This is how human culture has operated since we evolved enough intelligence to have culture. This is how our brains are wired. Copyright actually represents an immense impediment to the creative process.

The number of distinct completely original ideas is vanishingly small. Almost all creative works through human history are derivatives of prior works. This is why they are relevant and interesting. Truly original ideas are slightly rarer than hens teeth, and even then will only be an element added to prior works, in either a general or specific sense.

For story telling, the modern manifestation of the legend/folktale process is called fan fiction. People with a creative itch to tell a story get ideas based on existing stories, and write/record them. These usually go in a different direction than the original, but sometimes are just similar stories with new elements. Some of these stories end up being better than the original material. In some cases I find interesting fan fiction, and when I backtrack to the “original” work, it turns out to be so dreadful that I cannot figure out how someone could stand to watch/read/listen long enough to have a better (sometimes a much better) treatment of the material. In other cases, fan fiction or other creative transformations have led me back to interesting material I would otherwise never have known about. One example of the latter was an AMV that led me to an interest in a Swedish singer and an anime about a duck, a dance student, and a magic princess, and that’s just one character.

Both the article and the example I listed above are clear examples of stifled creativity. I could go on, but I have neither the lifespan, nor Techdirt anything like the required storage space, to list even a fraction of the losses.

Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously says:

The claim of a copyright-claim as art & political speech?

First off: I have nothing against this project. It looks OK from both an art and a legal standpoint.

Where is the substantiation of the copyright claim? It could be that there is no claim and the artist only claims there is one. That could be considered both political commentary on the copyright system and a statement of art. As well as a means of drawing more attention to the project.

I think it would have been wiser to stay on the fence a bit more in the reporting here. At least until a claim has been verified.

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