Artist Richard Prince is making news for selling enlarged screen shots of other people’s Instagram posts as his own art. Prince is selling them for nearly $100,000 each. Prince is a veteran practitioner of what might be called the copyist’s art. Another term for it is “appropriating.” An American, Prince is 65 years old. He has been using other work as the basis for his own — in both painting and photography — for much of his career.
Prince has sold work for millions, including fetching more than $8 million for one painting in his “Nurse” series, images he re-imagined from the covers of old romance novels. He has been sued for his controversial techniques, but the cases have proved difficult to judge. Pitted in court against the photographer Patrick Cariou (whose images he appropriated), Prince lost, then won on appeal, and finally settled out of court. Fair Use — a legal term that allows limited use of another’s work — is, like art, in the eye of the beholder.