The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that 25 of the 30 works in Richard Prince’s now-notorious “Canal Zone” series did, in fact, successfully transform their source material, photographs by Patrick Cariou, overturning a lower court’s 2011 ruling. The ruling had a juicy little bit of art criticism: “Where Cariou’s serene and deliberately composed portraits and landscape photographs depict the natural beauty of Rastafarians and their surrounding environs, Prince’s crude and jarring works, on the other hand, are hectic and provocative.” Sounds about right.
But five paintings remain a subject of dispute. From the ruling, on those works:
“Although the minimal alterations that Prince made in those instances moved the work in a different direction from Cariou’s classical portrature and landscape photos, we can not say with certainty at this point whether those artworks present a ‘new expression, meaning, or message.'”
The decision on those five has been remanded to the district court. Have a look at the five in question in the slide show above. Apologies for the distracting grid lines on some of them, which are from the PDF of the court filings. The final piece, Canal Zone (2007), a collage of 35 Cariou images, is shown only in detail.