Ana Mendieta’s Estate Files a Lawsuit against Amazon, Settlement Ensues

Ana Mendieta’s Estate Files a Lawsuit against Amazon, Settlement Ensues
Credit: Alessio Bolzoni/Amazon Studios
Leading lights  -   Artists

If you recently watched Luca Guadagnino’s much-anticipated remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, you may have noticed that Guadagnino was heavily inspired by a long list of 70’s feminist artists. The estate of one of them, Ana Mendieta, filed a lawsuit in Seattle federal court against Amazon Studios for borrowing from Mendieta’s work without permission. After a few months of battle, a settlement was reached with undisclosed terms and Guadagnino admitted that he was inspired by Mendieta’s work and her focus on the female body.

The lawsuit claimed that the film and its accompanying trailer used Mendieta’s images drawn from two performance works, Rape Scene and Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico). The estate, which is currently managed by the late artist’s sister, Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, issued a cease and desist letter in July when Amazon released the first trailer.

After the movie was released at the Venice Film Festival in September, Amazon screened the film for a representative of the estate with the original scenes cut, however eight more scenes were identified by the representative with similarities to Mendieta’s work. The estate allows the late artist’s work to be produced for academic, not commercial use.

Galerie Lelong & Co, the estate’s official agent, closely monitors the use of the artist’s work and released a statement at the same time the lawsuit was filed.

“The Estate oversees and implements a stringent rights and reproductions policy,” the gallery said. “All requests to reproduce images of her work are submitted to the Estate for approval. In general, image permissions are only granted for art historical contexts such as academic journal articles and informational articles directly related to the artist’s work and practice. Permissions are not granted for commercial reproductions. Barbara Hoffman, the Estate’s legal counsel, stated that it is unfortunate that the director, Luca Guadagnino, purports to pay homage to women artists of the 70s, yet Amazon has forced the Estate to bring a lawsuit to redress the damage suffered from the continuing usages of Mendieta’s iconic images in connection with ‘Suspiria.’”

Mendieta was an influential Cuban-American artist whose works often revolved around the female body and violence. She tragically died in 1985 after falling from her apartment tower in New York and her husband, Carl Andre, was charged with her murder but was later acquitted.

Other artists that were heavily referenced in Guadagnino’s movie are Gina Pane, Francesca Woodman, and Judy Chicago. Amazon has reportedly not responded to any requests for comment.