From Warren Siebrits:

On Sunday, 19 February 2006, an ad campaign “created” by advertising agency Ireland-Davenport, for their client BMW South Africa, appeared reproduced full page in numerous Sunday newspapers.
This advert depicting a female nude observed from behind, has been composed very closely in style and concept to that of Gerhard Marx. Not only is the advertisement a direct rip-off of Marx’s signature style, but the advert is also composed using reconstituted map fragments which is the cornerstone of Marx’s expression. Neither Gerhard Marx, nor the Gallery authorized any reproduction or simulation of his work to either BMW South Africa or Ireland-Davenport.

Marx is a young South African contemporary artist, theatre director and scenographer who pioneered this form of visual expression five years ago in 2001. In the catalogue for his previous exhibition held at our gallery in November 2005 there is an extensive interview reproduced where the artist discusses the invention of this technique along with illustrations of some of his earliest works in this style dating from 2002. The entire publication along with all Marx’s images are clearly copyrighted, with permission expressly requested for the use of any material pertaining to Marx’s work.
As the representatives of Gerhard Marx’s work, it is our opinion that this campaign grossly plagiarizes and infringes on Gerhard Marx’s creative and intellectual domain. We have therefore decided to take legal action against BMW South Africa and Ireland-Davenport and have appointed the services of Dr Owen Dean of Spoor and Fisher.
Enquiries Warren Siebrits or Lunetta Bartz 011 327 0000.

(detail) SHEET # 2 : HORIZONTAL FIGURE 2 cut and reconstituted map fragments 38 x 141cm
(detail) SHEET # 2 : HORIZONTAL FIGURE 2 cut and reconstituted map fragments 38 x 141cm

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  1. I’m glad that advertising agencies are finally being seen for what they are- creative leaches. Everone within the advertising industry is aware of this, the job must be done as fast as possible which does not allow for process. Ad people are able to copy pretty much anything, but when it comes to making their own work- they pretty much cut and paste existing work.
    I know that people within the advertising community were very impressed with Gerhard Marx’s show, going back many time to the Siebrits Gallery to re-look at the exhibition.

    I do not find Gerhard Marx’s sigiature style very ‘original’.
    The idea of using maps in art schools in the past five/ six years is as overworked as using hair as a medium, was in the nineties. I think his work is a blatant result of collective consciousnes.

    In conclusion I support the Gallerist and the artist’s move to take legal action against BMW
    and their creative whore- the ad agency. I feel what should come out of this is a discussion as to why South Africa loses its young creative talent to the advertising industry, and what measures can be taken to attract young people to the art community.

  2. Thanks for the comment, joe. I agree with most of what you are saying (certainly in support of Gerhard), but i’m not sure Marx’s work is as unoriginal as all that. Yes, people have been working with maps for ages, tho I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone make line drawing-like images out of the major roads in such a way before. In fact, I’d argue that his taking from the collective conscious (especially in Jung’s sense of the concept, when he first brought it to the fore), and twisting and framing and giving it back to us, is where his brilliance lies. If you’ve seen exactly this kind of work before, tho, could you point me to it? I’m v. v. curious.

  3. hey Nathaniel, a couple of years down the line – are you aware that the case is going ahead on the 9th of October (2008)? There’s an auction at the bag factory to raise awareness, raise funds and create a trust for future cases. see davidandgoliath(dot)co(dot)za once the registration goes through. if you have any more thoughts on it perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing your wisdom ;)

  4. FIREWALKER: For true source of Kentridge’s new sculpture, see Stone’s 2006 book on “Gradiva” in Italian Freud: “iScribbler-X” app on iTunes

    New York NY

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