Monday, November 23, 2020
 

Richard Prince: A Mother Walks Into a Bar…


Regarding Richard Prince’s Guggenheim exhibition, Donn Zaretsky points to a past legal issue concerning Richard Prince and the once-young Brooke Shields. In 1975, Brooke’s mom, Terri Shields, gave photographer Garry Gross consent to use Brooke’s now famous image of her as a 10 year old standing in a bathtub. In the 1981 lawsuit, Shields v. Gross , Brooke commenced an action in tort and contract against Gross seeking compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction permanently enjoining Gross from any further use of the photographs. She lost. The issue at hand was weather or not an infant model may disaffirm a prior unrestricted consent executed on her behalf by her parent and maintain an action against her photographer for republication of photographs of her.

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In effect, the court said that the infant plaintiff is bound by the terms of the valid, unrestricted consents to the use of her photographs executed by her mother, which she may not disaffirm, and that “no prior court approval of the contract with defendant for the infant’s services was required….” In conclusion, the Court stated that if the child was in need of more restrictive protection, then “a parent who wishes to limit the publicity and exposure of her child need only limit the use authorized in the consent,” because a defendant’s immunity from a claim for invasion of privacy in New York State is no broader than the consent executed to him. So long as the photographic images are not deemed by Courts to be pornographic, parents can pretty much line up their kids in front of flashing Leica’s and enjoy the rewards of publishers and avant-garde artists. Who said parenting was tough?

Speaking of flashes and princesses, Anthony Lane of the New Yorker has a lucid and bright (pun intended) exposé on the history of the Leica camera. His desire to infuse this sexy apparatus with a splash of the emotive is transparent, and one wishes he would have given the reader of bourgeois kitsch (for more on this see Clement Greenberg) a challenging poke by invoking a bit of Benjamin and Kracauer. Regardless—a worthy read!

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