Contemporary Art, Culture

Your Instagram Photos Could be Worth $90,000

You’ve probably been warned before: don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your employer to see.

But is it art, if it technically isn’t yours? This month at the Frieze Art Fair in New York, painter and photographer Richard Prince rattled some bones in the art world; pushing the limits of ownership and creativity. He’s proven that anything on the internet can be shared and sold because of flexible copyright laws and displayed giant screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos without warning or permission.

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Photographs from Gagosian Gallery and The Independent UK

The 6 foot tall inkjet prints of the screenshots belong to his “New Portraits” series at the Gagosian Gallery booth showing pictures of celebrity and internet-famous women and sold for on average $90,000 each selling all but one by the end of the May 13th VIP preview.

According to copyright laws, he isn’t doing anything wrong. He’s simply making slight adjustments to photos which technically means they’re his. He’s been “re-photographing” photos for decades now and has honed his technique by making minor changes to the originals. In this case, Prince removed the captions and added comments but didn’t alter usernames or the photos themselves.

This series was on display last year at a private show at the Gagosian’s Madison Avenue location and even then, created a buzz and was fiercely criticized. Not only because his work debates the fine line between copyright infringement and artistic freedom, but because most of the images are of women in compromising poses some of which included porn stars and a candid selfie in the gynaecologist’s office.

Prince’s “Original” series, another “re-photographing” collection is now showing at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan until June 20th.

Truth is, Prince is either the art world’s most celebrated or the mot hated artist at the moment. What’s your opinion?

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