The similarities in form, style, color and content are definitely striking, making it hard to believe that one was done with no knowledge of the other. In fairness, it’s likely that Target commissioned the work and assumed it was authentic and original. They are reportedly looking into it.
The brief article includes a slide show of the alleged infringement, along with a few other notable examples of satire, homage, parody and infringement.
It will be interesting to learn more of the facts around this case in the coming weeks and months. MacDonald isn’t the first Bay Area artist to experience the appropriation of his work. In separate incidents, photographers Morton Beebe and Art Rogers won what became landmark suits in defense of their intellectual property (against Robert Rauschenberg and Jeff Koons, respectively). More recently, Koons was on the winning side of a similar suit involving Gucci. In that decision, the courts sided with the artist by allowing his use of photography from a Gucci ad as “fair use.”
The jury is still out (metaphorically, but perhaps soon literally) on the now infamous Shepard Fairy/AP case in which the artist alleges fair use while the AP seeks to defend its intellectual property. Fairy is no stranger to allegations of (mis)appropriation.
For those considering reusing original content in your own work, the College Art Association has some tips.