TikTok and Instagram users rose up in a furious plagiarism debate, accusing artist Gala Knörr of copying the work of the Brooklyn-based photographer dayday.
The online controversy started when Knörr announced in an Instagram post last Thursday that her paintings would be exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao this summer. Her painting, Young cowboy staresdepicts a black figure in a cowboy hat and shirt with a white collar looking over his shoulder against an abstract background of the field – which Knörr said was inspired by the image of rider Brianna Noble protesting the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
However, eagle-eyed social media users were quick to note that the sharp composition of Knörr’s painting is almost identical to an image captured during the day in a still image from their 2022 short film. Blue.
dayday – a photographer and director who has worked on projects with the Oscars, the New York Timesand Alicia Keys – directed and filmed Blue. The short film tells the story of Ezekiel “Blue” Mitchell, a professional bull rider from Texas – one of the lone black riders in the sport.
Knörr’s painting closely reflects one of the opening images of Blue which shows a young Mitchell, portrayed by Isaac Redfearn, looking out over green pastures and solemnly looking back at the camera.
Several social media users started posting TikTok and Instagram videos, noting the stark similarities between Knörr’s painting and Blue – with a video by animation director Bona Bones, which has received almost half a million views on TikTok.
dayday also posted a screenshot of the museum’s original artist statement for “Young Cowboy Gazing” with the headline: “I think she meant well. But how do you write such a statement and not acknowledge the original artist?”
@hydeordie What do you think happened here #artistsoftiktok #daydaystudio #galaknorr #guggenheimbilbao ♬ original sound – Hyde or Die
As the criticism increased, Knörr acknowledged being influenced by Blue and apologized for not crediting dayday as her inspiration. Knörr tells Rolling stones that she made a “big mistake” when she failed to credit the dayday and is “very sorry.”
On July 13, Knörr and the Guggenheim Museum reached a solution where both works will be displayed side by side, Rolling stones reports. Instead of taking Knörr’s paintings down, Blue will now be exhibited alongside the artist’s declaration, which now also says that Knörr “directly incorporates images inspired by the 5-minute film Blue (2022).” Photographer dayday shared the news in an Instagram post.
“By tying the works tangibly together, we can begin to reflect on the double deletion of cowboys in the Basque Country together,” writes dayday. “We can begin to reflect on the double deletion of cowboys in the Basque Country and African-American cowboys in the United States from history.”