Louis Vuitton accused over Joan Mitchell paintings in handbag advertisements

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The Joan Mitchell Foundation has sent a cease and desist letter to Louis Vuitton alleging the luxury brand is using reproductions of the artist’s paintings in handbag advertisements without authorization.

In a statement dated Tuesday the non-profit said it repeatedly denied requests from Louis Vuitton to use Mitchell’s colorful abstract work in their campaign, which stars actor Lea Seydoux.


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“JMF denied this request in writing in accordance with its longstanding policy that images of the artist’s work be used only for educational purposes,” read the statement.

“JMF has never licensed the artist’s works for use in commercial campaigns or for the promotion of other goods or services. Louis Vuitton subsequently reiterated the request which was denied several times.”

Abstract expressionist Mitchell was part of the post-war New York School group, moving to the small French town Vetheuil in 1968, where she worked until her death in 1992.

The foundation said Louis Vuitton launched the campaign with at least three of Mitchell’s works – “La Grande Vallée XIV (For A Little While)” (1983); “Quatuor II for Betsy Jolas” (1976); and “Edrita Fried” (1981) – without authorization.

“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 said.

Reached by AFP, luxury giant LVMH said it was not commenting.

The accusation that the world’s top luxury group is using intellectual property without permission comes as Mitchell is the subject of an exhibition at the Foundation Louis Vuitton’s contemporary art space in Paris.

The show juxtaposing her works with Claude Monet’s runs through February 27.

The Mitchell foundation vowed that if Louis Vuitton does not “cease the illegal use of Mitchell’s artworks,” it will pursue further legal action.

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