Appropriation, Commercialization, Collaboration, Litigation

Nadia Plesner Darfur Louis Vuitton

So Louis Vuitton, LVMH sues artist Nadia Plesner for an image she created that includes a bag that is obviously (and potentially confusingly) similar to a Louis Vuitton Multicolore Audra.  She claims that she didn’t use LV’s multicolore monogram exactly, and that it was for charity.  LVMH responds, cease & desist.  And honestly, I feel for LV, because for Pete’s sake, who wants to be associated with the nightmare going on in Darfur.

But, I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of the suit. Other bloggers are doing that.

I’d like to talk about this subject in light of one of Louis Vuitton’s recent artistic collaborations (a collaboration with an artists who represents a genre and movement that makes this case just a smidge ironic, IMO).

Simple Living Monogram

First, we have LV’s work with Richard Price.  Even if you know very little about the art of Richard Prince before he met Marc Jacobs, you probably know that he is one who made his mark as “The Man Who Invented Appropriation

“What is appropriation?”, you might ask. Well, that’s why I’m here…


The definition of “Appropriation Art” from the ArtLex- art dictionary:

“To take possession of another’s imagery (or sounds), often without permission, reusing it in a context which differs from its original context, most often in order to examine issues concerning originality or to reveal meaning not seen in the original.”

MPR said in it’s article “The Man Who Invented Appropriation”:

“Painter and sculptor Richard Prince is famous in the art world for taking other people’s work and presenting it as his own. Some people see it as theft, others see it as creating a new cultural understanding.”

Richard Prince became famous taking pictures of other people’s pictures. His photographs of old Marlboro Man ads have made him millions (one alone selling in 2005 for $1.2 million).

Prince said of his use of the Marlboro images,

“No one was looking. This was a famous campaign. If you’re going to steal something, you know, you go to the bank.”

You can read more about what the original photographic artist of one of these Marlboro images had to say about Princes’ appropriations in this New York Times article.

Here’s an example of a Richard Prince piece appropriately titled “Rolex”. It’s a “$40,000-$60,000″ picture that he took of an old Rolex ad.

Richard Prince Rolex


I’m just saying… I’ve always thought it an ironic partnership. Richard Prince, the man who took taking other people’s work into the artistic mainstream and Louis Vuitton, maker of what Elle magazine calls “the most counterfeited bags in fashion history“.

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