Back in 2017, the estate of Andy Warhol launched a preemptive strike against photographer Lynn Goldsmith over Warhol’s series based on her photo of Prince. They hoped to prevent any future legal challenges from her, considering that Warhol was “inspired” by her image. However, the U.S. appeals court sided with the photographer on Friday, ruling that Warhol’s Prince series was not transformative and that it could not overcome copyright obligations to Goldsmith.
Andy Warhol was an often controversial and divisive figure in the art world. But whether you love him, hate him, or are indifferent, his work is certainly interesting, even if only for the response it elicits. Personally, I find his photography particularly intriguing.
The Cantor Arts Centre and Stanford Libraries today have announced that they’ve put a massive selection of Warhol’s photographs online and made them publicly available to view. How massive? Well, 3,600 contact sheets totalling around 130,000 images covering everything from backstage celebrity parties to street photography.
The circumstances of this situation remind me of the Obama “Hope” poster. Photographer makes a photograph, photograph gets appropriated, then remade as a stylised artwork. The Associated Press sued artist Shepard Fairey on the photographer’s behalf, and the matter was settled out of court. The story here starts off somewhat the same. In 1981, photographer Lynn Goldsmith made a photograph of the the artist still then known as Prince.
Three years later, Warhol then allegedly took this photograph and made a series of new pieces using the photograph as “inspiration”. The NY Daily News reports that Goldsmith believes more than simple inspiration was taken from her image, and that it infringes upon her creation. So, the estate of Andy Warhol have launched a preemptive strike against Goldsmith and filed suit against her. Their hope is to set a precedent preventing any future legal challenges she may make.