Artist Lynthia Edwards claims that Deborah Roberts’ lawsuit alleging infringement is tantamount to defamation.

A Comparative Analysis of the Artistic Works in Roberts’s Legal Documentation

Lynthia Edwards, an artist represented by Richard Beavers Gallery, recently responded to a lawsuit by collage artist Deborah Roberts in September 2022. Roberts alleged that Edwards deliberately infringed upon her unique collage style, aiming to encroach upon her market and confuse potential collectors. Filed on March 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Edwards’s counterclaim portrays her as an underdog fighting against Roberts’s perceived dominance, asserting that the original lawsuit is an endeavor to damage their reputations and livelihoods.

The counterclaim depicts Roberts’s two galleries, Stephen Friedman and Vielmetter, as third-party defendants. It refutes Roberts’s claim that Beavers and Edwards conspired to replicate her collage style, suggesting instead that both artists independently ventured into collage creation. Based in Alabama, Edwards contends that her collage works, inspired by her upbringing as a Black woman in the South, are not derivative of Roberts’s style but stem from her personal experiences and influences, including artists like Romare Bearden and Hannah Höch.

Maaren Shah, a partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel representing Edwards and Beavers, frames the counterclaims as a defense of the rights of emerging artists against established figures seeking to stifle innovation. The filing accuses Roberts and her galleries of launching a defamation campaign through social media and private messages, which purportedly harmed Edwards’s ability to sell her work and resulted in significant financial losses.

The counterclaim highlights alleged attempts by Roberts’s galleries to obstruct Edwards’s opportunities, including requests to remove her work from online platforms and efforts to prevent her artwork from being sold at art fairs. The filing includes a transcript of a voicemail purportedly from Roberts threatening legal action against Edwards and Beavers, further suggesting a concerted effort to undermine their careers.

Roberts’s legal team dismissed the counterclaim as misleading, pointing to instances where Edwards allegedly used material similar to Roberts’s and began creating similar works shortly after Roberts declined Beavers’s offer to sell her work. The original complaint sought damages exceeding $1 million and the destruction of all of Edwards’s works, while the counterclaims sought damages for defamation and punitive damages reflecting Roberts and her galleries’ alleged moral culpability.

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The press release and the photographs are courtesy of the gallery and the artists.

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