Can This Florida Nude Painter Take on China's Art Cloning Juggernaut?

Can This Florida Nude Painter Take on China's Art Cloning Juggernaut?
Artist Elaine Murphy was “shocked” to find reproductions of her works being sold under her own name
(Courtesy the Artist)

NAPLES, Florida — You may not know the name of Xiamen, China-based company LSI Art Co., but increasingly it's becoming a must-check destination for living artists — though not necessarily for happy reasons. LSI's website offers copies of paintings, many of them in the public domain, but many more by living, largely unrecognized artists who generally still expect to be paid for what they do (Stone Roberts, an artist who is currently highlighed at the Museum of the City of New York, is one such painter). And at least one of these artists has had enough.

Elaine Murphy, a painter who lives and works in Naples, first heard about the site this past July when she received an email from Fergal Keane, an art dealer who works in London. Murphy was “shocked” to find 8-by-10-inch reproductions of her abstracted portraits of cavorting nude figures being sold under her own name on the site, and that paintings she would generally sell for $4,000 were available on the site for just $20. Seeking advice from her dealer, Mary Jane Cohen, Murphy was directed to the Miami artist advocacy firm LegalArt, and eventually filed a report with the FBI.

“It's just amazing,” Murphy told ARTINFO, explaining that until her lawyer in Miami can establish that they've been selling her paintings in the US, her only recourse is to politely ask LSI Art Co to stop.

While the legal and ethical factors at play in Murphy's dispute are amply discussed in the age of appropriation-based art, because Murphy and her peers operate at a more accessible end of the art market, it can be far more difficult to draw attention and make demands than it would be for someone represented by a prestigious gallery in London or New York. “I just wonder if I can make other artists aware of this,” she said. “Not only are they using my name, signing my name, but they’re duplicates of my paintings! There’s nothing changed.”