Edited by Jani McCutcheon and Fiona McGaughey
Chapter 5: The Prince and the President’s daughter: a tale of copyright and contemporary art
Richard Prince, the infamous litigant-artist, recently made headlines by disavowing a commissioned Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump. Taking to Twitter just days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Prince tweeted of the portrait: ‘This is not my work. I did not make it. I denounce. This fake art.’ In a single utterance, Prince purported to change the status of the artwork by combining the language of copyright’s moral rights doctrine and the supra-legal authority afforded to him by his cultural cachet. Ironically, by claiming to have the power to disavow the work, Prince is endorsing exactly the orthodox and monolithic notion of authorship that his whole career has been dedicated to undermining. This chapter uses the Ivanka portrait saga as a case study through which to explore the complex interplay between notions of authorship in contemporary art and copyright law.
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