In 2003, Mattel, the maker of Barbie, sued Utah artist Thomas Forsythe for using Barbie dolls in photographs that depicted the toy naked and being assaulted by kitchen appliances. Time and time again, Mattel has engaged in litigation against different artists, including a Canadian stripper. In most cases, the artists won the lawsuits. Free speech, you know. This makes it even stranger that the New York Jewish Museum has removed an art installation due to the threat of a lawsuit. Of course, the issue was privacy and not trademark infringement.
The debate over how public our lives are in the age of the Internet rages on. Throw in some gayness and the Holocaust, and high-level controversy erupts. In May, San Francisco artist Mark Adelman's piece Stelen (Columns), a series of photographic panels depicting men posing in front of Peter Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, was removed by the museum. Interestingly, it was not the Holocaust that caused the uproar; it was the men.