Roger Dean the artist and graphic designer best known for his album covers for prog-rockers Yes and Asia is suing the Avatar Director James Cameron for $50m/£43m over “claims he copied his style and ideas for the 3D film Avatar”. Mr dean who graduated from the Royal College of Art, in London, in 1968 created work that is iconic and known the world over.
Dean told the BBC that, “in particular, his paintings of floating islands and huge graceful arches in the sky, painted over the course of 40 years, were copied by the director”. Avatar was nominated for nine Oscars, winning three technical awards. It was the largest grossing film of all time taking in over $2.8bn internationally, at the box-office and DVD sales.The action was filed at a court in New York last week.
Roger Dean’s unique vision was responsible for some of the most iconic imagery of the 1970s and 80s, and its popularity has gone on to span more than four decades. The inclusiveness of his work means that it is just as likely to be found blu-tacked to the wall of a suburban bedsitting room as it is hanging in an international art gallery.
Along with artists like Storm Thorgerson (Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon) Roger is credited with transforming the status of the album cover for all time, elevating it from mere packaging to a work of art in its own right. His designs for legendary prog-rock band Yes (at the time the most successful band in the world) gained him massive exposure; his covers for hit albums such as Tales from Topographic Oceans, Close to the Edge, Yessongs and Fragile won admiration from millions of fans globally. Roger’s artwork and trademark calligraphy became synonymous with the identity of the band and when, along with his brother Martyn, he was invited to conceive the stage set for the Yes USA tour it was seen as a natural progression.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he won early acclaim for his Sea Urchin Chair, which was famously ‘borrowed’ by Lord Snowden for exhibition at the British Trade Fair in Brussels. The prototype for Sea Urchin Chair was also shown at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Design Centre, and was later acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum for their permanent exhibition. Roger was also commissioned to design the seating for the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London.
There is some convincing evidence of borrowing, shown here in the photos above and below and this has been discussed exhaustedly in forums online. Whether the might of the teams of lawyers representing Cameron and Fox will win, remains to be seen. We feel it would be sensible for Cameron to admit to being inspired by Mr Deans work, give him a title credit and a few million and bury it.
Photos: Left Roger Dean Right Avatar All images © Roger Dean and 20th Century Fox