A porcelain sculpture by the American artist Jeff Koons has been taken off display at his retrospective exhibition at the Pompidou centre in Paris amidst plagiarism allegations. A leading French ad company are claiming that the work of art was copied from a campaign dating back to the 1980’s.
The sculpture which has been valued at £15m depicts a woman caught in an avalanche, being rescued by a penguin, standing next to a pig, wearing a floral necklace, carrying a barrel, in the manner of a St Bernard rescue dog. The kitsch work of art has been realistically rendered and is titled “Fait d’Hiver” a play on words for “fait divers”.
The ad company are claiming that the subject was directly stolen from a 1985 advertising campaign which uses the same name. It was originally created for the French clothing brand Naf-Naf by Franck Davidovici, the who has accused Koons of stealing his idea. Alain Seban,the head of the Pompidou Centre has defended the artist stating that appropriation is common in art sighting Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans as an example. “The very principle of which is to draw on objects bought in shops or images seen in the press”. “It is essential that museums be able to continue to give an account of these artistic endeavours,” he said in a statement, which emphasised that the contentious piece had been withdrawn “at the request of the lender”.
A bailiff visited the Pompidou Centre last month to photograph Koons’s sculpture in order to determine the similarities between the Naf-Naf ad and the sculpture. The sculpture, which was sold at Christie’s auction house in New York for about 3.0 million euros (3.7 million dollars) in 2007, is one of an edition of four sculptures.