Raw Materials and the Creative Process
Citation: 104 Geo L.J. 355 (2016)
Visitors to the Whitney Museum in Manhattan during the summer of 2014 encountered a tremendous range of iconic pop-culture imagery: a granite statue of Popeye, an Incredible Hulk piano organ, Jayne Mansfield embracing the Pink Panther, the Trix Rabbit ogling a spoonful of whipped cream, a Cabbage Patch Kid in a bear costume, and a porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson with his pet chimpanzee. This imagery formed a substantial component of the Whitney’s largest-ever retrospective, dedicated to the controversial and wildly successful artist Jeff Koons. The Whitney’s 128-piece, three-and-a-half decade journey through Koons’s career gave visitors a kitschy, colorful, and astronomically expensive insight into the characters and imagery that form the “raw material” for much contemporary creative expression. And in doing so, the exhibition also provides a window into the recent history of fair use, intellectual property, and creative expression. . . .