Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Are you being Serged? Patrizio di Renzo's hands-down Lutens homage


patrizio di renzo via fashion copious

Interesting to see all the blog gushing over a new set of heavily-styled images authored by Italian photographer Patrizio di Renzo for Swiss jeweller Majo Fruithof and starring Dutch supermod Iekeliene Stange, herself a photographer as it happens. Frockwriter was up until this point unfamiliar with di Renzo's work. We are however extremely well acquainted with the oeuvre of the award-winning French photographer Serge Lutens, the erstwhile creative director of Christian Dior Beauté and latterly, Shiseido, who created some of the most memorable beauty images of the late 20th century. And to whose work the Majo Fruithof images bear an alarming resemblance. But please, don't take frockwriter's word for it.

Compare and contrast for yourself the above Majo Fruithof image with this Serge Lutens image, created some time during the 1980s for Shiseido:


serge lutens via lumière



Here is yet another Majo Fruithof image:


patrizio di renzo via fashion copious

And voilà a Serge Lutens original, also for Shiseido:


serge lutens via lumière



Yet more Majo Fruithof:


patrizio di renzo via fashion copious

And more Lutens:


serge lutens via typogabor.com



Frockwriter is not sure what possible explanation there could be for the striking similarities between the model poses, black clown leotards and heavily stylised makeup that feature in both Lutens' work and that of di Renzo for Maja Fruithof. It's uncanny, really it is.

Much of Lutens' work is easily sourced online and via the 1998 Editions Assouline monograph Serge Lutens. Here is the cover:


serge lutens via biblioparfum.net

And here is a little more Patrizio di Renzo/Majo Fruithof for the road:



patrizio di renzo via fashion copious

12 comments:

Bryanboy said...

WOAH.

brilliant entry as always.
happy new year!

Emma said...

Oh my gosh!!!

Maxie said...

interesting post, Patty.
Can one actually copyright the subject matter of a photograph, or just the photograph itself..?

Patty Huntington said...

good point maxie. that's one for an IP-specialist lawyer to answer. my understanding of copyright legislation is that an author cannot claim copyright over information or an idea, but merely in the expression of that information/idea. obviously patents are a slightly different matter.

in this case, the majo fruithof images look to virtually duplicate some of serge lutens' images. noone in their right mind could attempt to claim that it is a mere coincidence. but stranger things have happened i imagine. given that lutens' images are 20 years old, and widely-publicised - they were part of shiseido's advertising - he would have no problem whatsoever in arguing precedence. although some of the shots merely bear similarities, in at least two cases that i could match - and this search was limited by the number of lutens images that i could find online (i also don't have a copy of the most recent book) - the images are almost identical.

i don't know what serge lutens could do legally. but ethically, and morally, it's another matter. and sadly, this sort of thing does happen. i know of one recent example of a US fashion company which in fact used a specific photographer's images for a mockup for its upcoming campaign. i know this because the creative director was even stupid enough to email the photographer the mockup (who showed it to me). the company then hired another photographer to shoot the campaign, emulating the original photographer's style. i'm still waiting to get hold of the campaign images.

Maxie said...

fyi: i found this on a photography forum
"Copyright covers form but not idea. It applies to the tangible artistic result -- known as the "form of material expression" -- not the underlying concept. So your photograph has copyright, but not the idea or viewpoint behind it."

So, from that it would seem legally, at least, Fruithof has not done anthing wrong.

Ethics are another matter all together.

Patty Huntington said...

well... lutens created a series of tangible artistic expressions.

here's a brief Q&A from the website of US IP specialist andrew epstein.

http://www.photolaw.net/faq.html

"Q. If I have an idea for a work such as a photograph, is my idea protected by copyright?

A. No. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. The only thing that can be copyrighted is the expression of the idea. This is sometimes a tricky concept. Copyright protection can extend to a written description of an idea or to a sketch for a proposed photograph that might be drawn by an art director in an advertising agency. However, copyright protection does not extend to the idea itself. Only the tangible expression of the idea is protected, that is, the particular literary or pictorial expression of the idea conceived of by the author.

For example, no one can claim the exclusive right to photograph the Statue of Liberty. This landmark has probably been photographed from every conceivable angle since it was constructed. However, if a photographer were to combine an image of the Statue of Liberty with a picture of recent immigrants, then the combined photograph, if it is original, would be a unique expression and thus be protected by copyright".

needless to say, the above material is copyright andrew epstein.

i'm hoping that under the premise of fair usage for news and review purposes - and the fact that he is fully credited as the copyright owner - i will be insulated from problems.

Paul said...

The “homage” is always tricky territory: where does “inspired by” stop and “blatantly ripped off” start? I think the test is if the new pictures push the intention of the original even further in some way.

These pictures don’t pass that test – for all their technical achievements, which are considerable (and expensive!), they still don’t approach the brilliance of Lutens’ originals. The lighting, especially of the backgrounds, is flat; compare it with the delicacy and subtlety of Lutens’ gentle gradations.

Appropriation was a hot-button topic in the art world in the 1980s, although the argument tended to collapse into relativist nonsense about no one owning anything and the impossibility of genuine originality. In the end, the argument is a moral one: just because you can copy something, does it mean you should?

葛瑞塔.greta said...

amazing!

myows said...

The original photographer, Serge, could file a copyright infringement claim for a huge sum... i wonder if this was discussed with him beforehand ?

I am about to launch an online app to help photographers claim their rights against such infringements.

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt any copyright will hold in something so vague as this.

1. The models were different
2. The photos were different
3. The clothes were similar but different
4. It's a style

Trying to copyright this is like trying to copyright Renaissance style, Gothic style, grunge style, etc. I will not argue that the latter artist was not inspired by the original artist but that is ok. What's not ok is to copy someones work exactly and pass it off as your own without their express permission.

That said I'm a very strong advocate for copyright laws. I think its important not to blur the lines between here. Here's a better way to look at it, who owns the patent for Web 2.0 style? lol. NO ONE.

Anonymous said...

"... i know of one recent example of a US fashion company which in fact used a specific photographer's images for a mockup for its upcoming campaign."

This happens all the time. It's almost ridiculous how often, actually.

Anonymous said...

Interesting... I worked @ the shot and made all the black stickers. Iekeliene said it was the hardest job ever ;) she had to stay in different position for hours. Maybe Patrizio or Armin (Zauberprinzen.com) was inspired by Lutens - everyone needs inspiration.

1. The models were different
2. The photos were different
3. The clothes were similar but different
4. It's a style

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