Glyphs of Time :: a blog by jarvis grant

June 16, 2010

The Life of a Photograph…

Filed under: Art History,Museum,Observations,Photography,Video — Tags: — Jarvo @ 1:14 am
The Cowboy by Sam Abell

The Cowboy by Sam Abell

There was once a time when photographers thought of themselves as members of a Brotherhood/Sisterhood. As a photographer, you were one with all other photographers. Whether you liked a photographer’s work or not, you respected that person for the energy they brought to it. Well in these days were “artists” (usually painters) now call themselves photographers.They know little to nothing about that brotherhood/sisterhood of like spirited folk feel. Yet, in an Andy Warholed way, they can appropriate the images of others. Not only appropriate/steal an image, but actually call it they own! When artists and Big Time arts institutions feel comfortable with this type of behavior, there’s a problem.

A few years ago I read about the artist, Richard Prince. He had put together a series of works at the Guggenheim Museum about the New Americana and some blah, blah, blah.  In his exhibit, he used an image of photographer, Sam Abell. So here’s an interview with Sam Abell about what he thinks about this guy stealing one of his images and is making crazy amounts of money from it. Sam is a class act, but there ought to be a law about things like this. I think they should call it Copyright Infringement! Yet it seems to be legal. Kinda like bringing the financial markets to their knees in 2008. It’s legal, but is it right or ethical?

But wait, there’s more! Well now it seems that someone else inspired by Prince, is selling the Abell image as micro stock for pennies in comparison in a project called 20×200! Photography, it’s a crazy business



  1. Thank-you Jarvis for putting this out here for the visual arts community to consider. Regardless of ones medium, it is an issue we all find ourselves grappling with in one way or another!

    Although it is only my opinion, what has been done by the artist Richard Prince may be considered legal but it goes to the core of one’s own personal responsibility, integrity and morality — or the lack there of. And we all know for some individuals, money talks and…!

    Comment by paul g. — June 16, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

  2. Very true Paul. Money does talk, but we can’t let it silence us as creative professionals. The question is how to turn it around or at least let these so called “Powers That Be” know they will be held accountable.

    Comment by Jarvo — June 17, 2010 @ 12:41 am

  3. I think the art world does indeed have “something to answer for…” The question is HOW do we hold them accountable?
    Why wasn’t Mr. Able’s work considered “art” before it was misappropriated- hijacked, stolen? The hierarchy of what is
    considered “art” in the photographic world needs some serious reconsideration.

    Comment by Leigh Mosley — June 17, 2010 @ 2:38 am

  4. How indeed. When i attend local artist’s forums, rights protect never seems to come up. On the other hand, photographers are always discussing copyright issues. Yet, it all seems to be mute in this case. I guess I need to investigate how this case was able to go down the way it did. But beyond all the legal mumbo jumbo, the question remains, how & why would the curators at the Guggenheim permit this to take place.

    Comment by Jarvo — June 17, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  5. TL;DR; but you have great pictures.

    Sent via Blackberry

    Comment by Motorcycle guy — July 6, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  6. Ha! Glad you enjoyed them!

    Comment by Jarvo — July 6, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

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