Jeff Dieschburg is a Luxembourgish artist whose strikingly sculpted oil paintings soon earned him a small fortune and a lot of fame. His “Turandot”, exhibited at Strassen Cultural Center Stroossen, won a prize of €1,500 and was presented to Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg. But there’s a problem with that, a problem that became apparent as news of his talent spread: it is practically identical to a photograph of Jingna Zhang, but for an earring and Dieschburg’s skillful use of the Flip Image ordered. Even the hairs and rose petals match.
The municipality of Strassen deleted its Instagram post announcing the price of Turandot, but did not contact Zhang, she said. Instead, Dieschburg himself emailed her after her tweet went viral. And not to apologize either, but to teach him about copyright.
“I was inspired by some of your artistic choices (posture of the model, the drape and the flowers) but I created an image in an artisanal way, with different colors, a different technique, an inversion and a representation of the figure and additional features (sword, inscriptions, earrings) and the result dialogues with a crucial second composition, a self-portrait. Together they define my Turandot work,” he explained, according to Zhang. the artistic strategy of quoting an existing image is a more than common affair, especially in non-digital media.”
After Zhang reported Dieschburg’s appropriation of his work, another photographer came forward noting a similar experience. Bekka Björke:
The Dieschburg painting is on sale for €6,500.
While it’s true that transforming an original can support a “fair use” or “fair use” defense to a copyright infringement claim, Dieschburg’s claims that the photos don’t were used only as a “reference” do not seem convincing.
His paintings change very little in the photographs, but for a flourish here or there. This can be accomplished by a variety of methods, but the most obvious would be to manipulate the photo in Photoshop, print or project it onto a physical medium, and then paint over it.
Below are the two superimposed images, as a GIF, fading between the two images every two seconds. As you can see, everything lines up pixel by pixel. This is, in my opinion, a slightly modified mechanical reproduction.
I would not dare to say that the reproduction of Dieschburg has key signifiers of chinese oil painters on demandbut i’m sure thinking about the possibility. And so should his preemptive lawyeralready being talked about in the local media.
“I can’t stand an exceptional talent being persecuted for nonsense”, he told RTL.