The Art of Art

I recently saw a post about a curious little book that I immediately ordered on eBay (not likely found at any local bookseller). We Go to The Gallery raised a storm of interest when it was first published a few months ago. I suspect the backstory is fairly compelling–artist gets her big break, but is quickly squelched by a corporate copyright issue. Big artists such as Jeff Koons get sued for millions and carry on. What about the others? Any documentary filmmakers looking for a good story–Michael Moore?

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UK Artist, author, and illustrator Miriam Elia had a brilliant concept when she launched her book after raising 5000 pounds on Kickstarter. Modeled after the Peter and Jane children’s reading series from the 1960s and 70s, her Dung Beetle LTD publication is a 46-page hardcover book that is no bigger that a greeting card, but the ideas inside are large. She addresses some of questions that arise when children (and adults) encounter contemporary art–part spoof and part truth. These are some of my favorite pages…

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When the book created a buzz of interest online, Penguin (publisher of the original Ladybird Books series that had inspired Elia) pulled out their copyright agreement and sued the artist.

The Guardian reports on it here. The artist explains in a post on her Learning with Miriam blog that she authors with her collaborator/husband, Ezra Elia…

”I write from inside a paper bag where I have been living for these last three months.”

Miriam Elia responded artfully with more art–another publication free from any potential copyright infringement issues called We Sue An Artist: Guide to Corporate Intimidation, along with the tagline “and then they rip her off.” 

Indeed they have. Penguin has run with Elia’s idea and published their own series of visually retro “kidult” books with titles such as Mindfulness, The Hipster, The Mid-Life Crisis, The Hangover, The Shed, Dating, The Wife, andThe Husband.

January 2016


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