a tale of a few cities

Licensing slip up: Velvet Underground sues over Giorgio de Chirico banana symbols

The Uncertainty of the Poet,  1913
L’Incertitude du poète


Rock group The Velvet Underground filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to stop any future exhibition/reproduction of Giorgio de Chirico’s 1913 masterwork, The Uncertainty of the Poet.

The 1960s rock band formed by Lou Reed and John Cale accused the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico of trademark infringement, retroactively claiming in a lawsuit that the use of banana symbols are synonymous with The Velvet Underground.

Each of the bananas featured in de Chirico’s iconic artwork bare an uncanny resemblance to the banana featured on the cover of Velvet Underground’s 1967 album “The Velvet Underground and Nico.”

The fact that de Chrico’s work was created decades earlier was not mentioned in the lawsuit.

Although Velvet Underground broke up in 1973, the album later came to be regarded as one of the best albums of all time, and was also referred to as “The Banana Album”.

“The symbol has become so identified with The Velvet Underground … that members of the public, particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognize the use of bananas as a symbol of The Velvet Underground,” the complaint added.

The lawsuit said the aging control freaks behind the band had repeatedly asked the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico to cease all future exhibition and further reproduction of the 1913 work, The Uncertainty of the Poet.

Velvet Underground is seeking an injunction stopping the use of banana symbols by other parties, a declaration that the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico has no retroactive copyright interest in the use of banana symbols, unspecified damages and a share of previous profits made by the Fondazione Giorgio de Chirico from any licensing deals of the iconic artwork.

UC Davis Chancellor’s Chilling Walk of Shame Through a Line of Silent Demonstrators…

Posted in Media, Occupy Wall Street, Photography, protests, Reportage, Scandal, video by petercombe on November 20, 2011

Chilling Moments in Occupy Movement’s ‘Day of Action’

Posted in Crisis, New York City, Occupy Wall Street, Photography, pictures, portraits, Reportage, surrealism by petercombe on November 18, 2011
Photograph: Randy L. Rasmussen/AP

A police officer uses pepper spray on an Occupy Portland protester at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Oregon. 

Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Brendan Watts is seen with blood on his face while surrounded by three police officers in Zuccotti Park, New York. 

Makes me think about something Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last year – “We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces.”

 The Guardian >

Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ Destroyed

Posted in Art, Photography, protests, Reportage by petercombe on April 18, 2011

When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion.

Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon. For four months, it has hung in the exhibition “Je crois aux miracles”, (I Believe in Miracles), to mark 10 years of art-dealer Yvon Lambert’s personal collection in his 18th-century mansion gallery in Avignon. The show is due to end next month, but two weeks ago a concerted protest campaign began.

Also on view, Twombly’s “Phaedrus, A white painting valued at $2.8 million was notoriously smeared with red lipstick when a woman kissed it in 2007. For this exhibit, the work was placed behind a security barrier. In light of recent religious protests in the south of France, I am surprised the museum didn’t take the same precaution with Serrano’s work. 

The Collection Lambert gallery director, Eric Mézil, said the museum would reopen with the destroyed works on show “so people can see what barbarians can do”. He said there had been a kind of “inquisition” against the art work.

right: Piss Christ by Andres Serrano after it was attacked by Christian protesters in Avignon.

Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian >

China’s detention of artist Ai Weiwei

Posted in China, Reportage by petercombe on April 6, 2011

Fears for the safety of Ai Weiwei, one of China’s best-known artists are growing amid international condemnation of his extra-legal disappearance at the hands of the country’s increasingly repressive state security apparatus. He was detained at a Beijing airport on Sunday and led away by airport security personnel.

In January Chinese demolition workers tore down the Shanghai studio of the artist – a move that was linked to his political activism. Demolition crews arrived without warning on January 11, 2011 and flattened the building within a day.  He originally had permission to build the studio, but later officials ordered it to be destroyed, saying he had failed to follow planning procedures.

The Chinese government in the midst of the worst crackdown on free speech in at least a decade. Afraid that any mention of the “Jasmine Revolutions” sweeping the Middle East right now might lead to similar protests in China, Chinese authorities are cracking down hard. In the past month, dozens of Chinese bloggersand dissidents have been detained “disappeared”, and in less than 24 hours after his arrest, Ai’s name has been virtually erased from the Chinese internet.

Ai served as the Head Artistic Advisor for Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the National Stadium for the Beijing Olympic games of 2008.

Ai Weiwei, Fountain of Light, 2007

Petition to Free Ai Weiwei >

Sendai, Japan

Posted in Photography, Reportage by petercombe on March 15, 2011

Photo: Alex Hofford / European Pressphoto Agency

Portraits of the former Emperor and Empress Hirohito of Japan lies in the rubble at Sendai airport.

A house floats in the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese coast

Posted in Photography, Reportage, surrealism by petercombe on March 15, 2011

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord / US Navy via Reuters


A Japanese home is seen adrift in the Pacific Ocean in this photograph taken on March 13, 2011 and released on March 14. Ships and aircrafts from the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group are searching for survivors in the coastal waters near Sendai, Japan, in the wake of 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that officials say claimed at least 10,000 lives.

MSN’s Robert Hood says: As a picture editor, I’m exposed to thousands of news photographs each day. Images from events like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan begin to look the same. But occasionally we see one that is exceptional. For me this picture symbolizes the personal loss and epic scale of hopelessness that’s beginning to sink in.


The Big Picture, Jo Yong-Hak

Posted in Photography, Reportage by petercombe on December 17, 2010

South Korean Marine Corps’ amphibious vehicles and the Navy’s Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) ship “Dokdo” (background) take part in a mock landing operation in the sea off Incheon, west of Seoul, September 15, 2010. The operation marked the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-led United Nations troops’ Incheon Landing Operations during the 1950-1953 Korean War. (REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak). From Boston.com’s The Big Picture, 2010 Year in Photos (part 3 of 3).

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