The foundation representing the estate of Abstract Expressionist artist Joan Mitchell issued Louis Vuitton a cease and desist order after the fashion company featured three paintings by the late artist in a recent ad campaign. The Joan Mitchell Foundation (JMF) said in a February 21 statement that it denied Louis Vuitton’s late 2022 request to use the paintings and threatened further legal action unless the company ends the campaign and withdraws the images.
JMF says it did not grant Louis Vuitton’s initial request because it only allows Mitchell’s imagery to be used for educational purposes. “JMF has never licensed the artist’s works for use in commercial campaigns or for the promotion of other goods or services,” the foundation said in a statement shared with Hyperallergic. The three large-scale paintings in question are “La Grande Vallée XIV (For A Little While)” (1983), “Quatuor II for Betsy Jolas” (1976), and “Edrita Fried” (1981).
Louis Vuitton has not yet responded to Hyperallergic‘s request for comment.
All three works are currently on display in a joint exhibition titled Monet – Mitchell at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. (The contemporary art space opened in 2014 and is owned by Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH, a French luxury conglomerate.)
In the advertisements, French actress Léa Seydoux holds a handbag in front of the Mitchell paintings on view in the exhibition. The campaign photographs crop the paintings and forego a credit line to the artist. They were published online and in print in France and the United States.
Joan Mitchell was an influential member of the Abstract Expressionist movement in 1950s post-war New York. She led a prolific and successful career over the course of upwards of 40 years before she died in 1992.
“As an artist-endowed foundation dedicated to stewarding Mitchell’s work and legacy, JMF carefully manages how images of the artist’s work are used in accordance with its mission,” the foundation stated. “It is a grave disappointment to JMF that Louis Vuitton has such disregard for the rights of an artist and would exploit her work for financial gain.”
It’s not the first time a fashion brand faces pushback for including images of works by renowned artists in marketing materials without permission. Last year, Italy’s Uffizi Galleries sued the French haute couture designer line Jean Paul Gaultier for promoting a capsule collection featuring Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” in a capsule collection, allegedly without authorization, the Guardian reported.