Art Dirt: The Commercialization of Art

by Glasstire January 29, 2023
A large inflatable balloon that looks like the artist Yayoi Kusama paints dots on the side of a multi-story storefront.

A large inflatable mannequin of artist Yayoi Kusama installed on Louis Vuitton’s flagship store at the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France. Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Brandon Zech and Leslie Moody Castro discuss Yayoi Kusama’s new Louis Vuitton collaboration, the coopting of Frida Kahlo’s image, and other instances where an artist and their work is thrust into the commercial world.

“My question is: are these artists actually controlling their image, and does this image reflect what their ethics are as an artist?”

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Related Readings:
USA Today: Hyper-realistic robot of famed artist Yayoi Kusama makes people stop and stare
The Art Newspaper: New York is dotty about Yayoi Kusama robot at Louis Vuitton
Time Out: A Yayoi Kusama robot is painting the windows of the Louis Vuitton store on Fifth Avenue
New York Post: Louis Vuitton installs giant Yayoi Kusama lookalikes, robots at stores
The New York Times Style Magazine: Yayoi Kusama’s Signature Spots Return to Louis Vuitton
Stir World: Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama brings polka-dotted frenzy to flagship stores
Dezeen: Louis Vuitton overhauls stores with Yayoi Kusama polka-dots and life-like animatronics
The Louis Vuitton Kusama Collection
Wall Street Journal: Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama: A Playfully Chic Collaboration
Wall Street Journal: Yayoi Kusama’s Dots on Your Louis Vuitton Bag
ARTnews: Louis Vuitton’s New Kusama Collaboration Lacks Their First Collection’s Attention to the Zeitgeist
The Cut: Exclusive: Yayoi Kusama Talks Louis Vuitton, Plus a First Look at the Collection
The Art Newspaper: Kusama and Louis Vuitton: Who is signing on the (polka) dotted line for artist’s mega-brand deals?
The Art Newspaper: New York is dotty about Yayoi Kusama robot at Louis Vuitton
Time Out: We saw the Yayoi Kusama robot at Louis Vuitton and it’s terrifying

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Hank Lam January 29, 2023 - 12:07

You start by asking “are these artists actually controlling their image?”

After listening to your ‘cast, you reveal more questions than answers! My take:

Would the next question not be does an artist have that right, and what bounds does a sale entail on the sold object?

Assume one creates art when still living. Is it private or public (as in ‘for sale’). Is it copyrighted or public domain (both legal vehicles)?

Once an artist reveals their creative imagination, it is subject to myth, legends, lore, plagiarism, theft and profiting. Consider this good and bad, but that is the artist’s choice, based on method of display and performance.

Images? We have wax museums, Lego models, heroes’ faces as corporate logos, and popular songs used in advertising. (didn’t even touch on modern-day social media posts, re-tweets, or NFTs, and their implications or frivolities)

Do these use-issues result from a lack of imagination, or simple exploitation? Maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Regardless, someone paid for a privilege! What is the perpetuity? How long can it hang on my wall, sing from my lips, or be on my packaging? Guess that depends on the price and contract!

With all due respect, I doubt most people in their nineties care about what happens big-picture any more. No, they didn’t necessarily give up; they have other personal priorities that probably have nothing to do with money or the whims of the public (or family).

And once you’re dead, you have been written out of history. Doubt it? We have deny-ers everywhere. We have re-written text books in schools. — Life is for the living (unless you incorporate your brand; be you Vuitton, Kahlo, or Jimi Hendrix, etc. (and back to my earlier points on myths and legends, and legal vehicles).

Very interesting podcast. I agree and disagree with what I heard and the attitudes expressed, but I am thinking more and that is good. Thanks!

And as always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Worth is what someone will pay. Morals and ethics – I leave that decision to each and every individual!


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