Anyone who is a comic book fan will be familiar with the name and the work of Brian Bolland. He was one of the original artists on the UK's Judge Dredd comic strip and has spent most of the last 20 years producing outstanding front covers for US comic books.
Now the work of an exhibition artist, Erró Gudmundur, has caught his eye. Because Erro has been ripping Brian, and other leading comic artists off. Erro either repaints or photomontages pictures by these comic artist onto his canvasses and sells them for much more than the original artists ever received. Here is a recent Erro canvas, with Brian Bolland himself stood in front of it in the Pompidou Centre:
And here is the original cover art from Tank Girl comic by Brian Bolland:
So, the question is where does Brian stand as far as copyright is concerned, and is Erro perfectly within his rights as an artist to reappropriate the work of another artist without crediting them?
I am torn over this issue, having studied Fine Art, been raised on Roy Lichtenstein who, 50 years ago, did precisely the same thing with the work of such comic artists as Russ Heath (Whaam) and John Romita. And I have had two exhibitions of my own canvasses on a very similar principle, taking minute snippets from comic strip frames and blowing them up to reveal their imperfections. One such canvas by me is currently on sale on eBay:
The £25 I'm likely to get for my canvas means I'm hardly doing a Lichtenstein or Erro by earning hundreds times more than the original artist, but the principle remains the same. I have reappropriated the work of another artist, although in my exhibitions the original artists including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are credited when known.
So, is it art? (Well yes, obviously it's art, that was a facile tabloid way of putting it). But who is in the right? And should Brian simply accept being ripped off in this way? Or should there be some recompense for artists whose work is reused so?