French Artist Orlan Takes Lady Gaga Plagiarism Suit to NY

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on January 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Pop diva Lady Gaga seems pretty independently creative. But she is being sued for copying another apparently creative lady. A French artist claims that Gaga got the idea to put bumps in her face in a 2011 music video from Orlan's "carnal art" projects.

Orlan sued Gaga for plagiarizing her work, according to Page Six, claiming 7.5 percent of profits from Gaga's "Born This Way" album, or $31.7 million. Orlan's attorneys intend to subpoena Gaga's creative team in New York and question them about the styling of the video, which Orlan says is a copy of her life's work, her carnal art.

What Is Carnal Art?

Famous for publicly submitting to strange surgeries in the name of art, Orlan's carnal art consists, in part, of her temporarily implanting bulges in her body and sharing the process with an audience.

Reportedly, prestigious designers such as Paco Rabanne and Issey Miyake have created costumes for her to wear on the operating table. Orlan remains conscious during the operations as poetry is read and music played. And people all over the world watch this performance live via satellite linkups

Not Born This Way

Orlan's lawyers said they intend to depose fashion guru Nicola Formichetti and makeup artist Billy Brasfield about the inspiration behind Gaga's "Born This Way" video and single cover. How did they think of putting those bumps on Gaga's face if not based on Orlan's ideas?

Orlan has been around for a while. From 1990 to 1995, she had nine plastic surgery operations "to rewrite western art on her own body," according to the Guardian. Among other personal modifications, she changed her forehead to mimic the protruding brow of Mona Lisa and altered her chin to resemble Boticelli's Venus.

Orlan and Gaga do seem to have themes in common, as both challenge conventional notions of style and beauty with their work. But Gaga has made much of being an outsider as a child and accepting oneself, while Orlan is deliberately seeking to be recreate herself artificially.

She told the Guardian in 2009, "[M]y goal was to be different, strong; to sculpt my own body to reinvent the self. It's all about being different and creating a clash with society because of that."

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