The high court of Paris has sentenced the American plastician Jeff Koons for counterfeiting an advertisement of the prêt-à-porter brand Naf-Naf
His porcelain of 1988 is exhibited at the George Pompidou center in 2014 for a retrospective shows a woman lie down on the snow nearby a pig. This artwork is very similar compare to the visual «Fait d’Hiver» of 1985, achieved by the Executive Creative Director of advertisement Franck Davidovici where a young woman is similarly lie down on the snow not so far from the pig Naf Naf.
The borders of Jeff Koons’ power or the avalanche crossing the line
The artist, his company Jeff Koons LLC and the George Pompidou Center has been sentenced by the high court of Paris to pay a package of 135.000 euros for damages and royalties to the publicist Franck Davidovici, the visual designer of “Fait d’Hiver” for Naf Naf.
The editor Flammarion has also been sentenced to pay 2.000 euros of damages and royalties for commercializing a book with this artwork.
We have to recognize that the similarities are surprising between the visual created in 1985 and the artwork achieved by Jeff Koons three years later. Same ked at the neck of the pig, same pose of the woman who has just endured an avalanche, same loosing look. The only difference, in the Jeff Koons’ release, by poetry, the young woman is dress up with a tee-shirt from fishnet stockings on her huge breast.
« It is the same artwork in three dimensions where Jeff Koons has added flowers and two penguins to make a reference to winter. The purpose is to be remind the original artwork. The message is exactly the same. He has concluded the plagiarism by giving to his artwork the same title than the advertisement, «Fait d’Hiver» » highlighted the lawyer of the publicist, Jean Aittouares.
Jeff Koons, multi-recidivist or victim of a rigid law ?
Jeff Koons « Does not deny has been inspired by the advertisement «Fait d’Hiver», quite the contrary because it is the main purpose of his artistic approach.” explained his lawyer at the court hearing.
But “It is an autonomous artwork, whole, innovative, (…) whose the message is strictly different than the first artwork who sell clothes”.
In other words, the artist appropriate knowingly the pictures which coming from advertisements or magazines. Could we speak about plagiarism in this case ?
In march 2017, Jeff Koons LLC and the Pompidou Center had already been sentenced by the High Court of Paris for the artwork in porcelain ‘Naked’, counterfeiting of a photography took by Jean-François Bauret. This artwork came from the same series than ‘Fait d’Hiver’, series called Banality. The judgment is not really surprising.
Please note also that the artist is known by the justice, sued three times for plagiarism and condemned two times.
However we can reflect upon the notion of appropriation law. The justice had condemned the notion of plagiarism or killed the freedom of expression ? ◊
JF for Streep
Judgement rendered the 8th november by the TGI (High court) of Paris
Fait d’hiver, Jeff Koons, 1988
Fait d’hiver, Publicité Naf Naf, 1985