The online controversy started when Knörr announced in an Instagram post last Thursday that her paintings would be on display at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao this summer. Her painting, Young Cowboy Gazing, depicts a Black figure in a cowboy hat and white collared shirt glancing over his shoulder against an abstract background of the field — which Knörr said was inspired by the image of horsewoman Brianna Noble who protested the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
However, eagle-eyed social media users were quick to note that the stark composition in Knörr’s painting is nearly identical to an image captured by dayday in a still from their 2022 short film Blue.
dayday — a photographer and director who has worked on projects with the Oscars, the New York Times, and 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 mirrors one of the opening shots of Blue which shows a young Mitchell, portrayed by Isaac Redfearn, looking over green pastures and solemnly gazing back at the camera.
Several social media users started posting TikTok and Instagram videos noting the glaring similarities between Knörr’s painting and Blue — with one video by animation director Bona Bones racking up 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 caption, “I want to believe she meant well. But how do you write a statement like this and not acknowledge the original artist?”
@hydeordie What do you think happened here #artistsoftiktok #daydaystudio #galaknorr #guggenheimbilbao ♬ original sound – Hyde or Die
As criticism mounted, Knörr acknowledged being influenced by Blue and apologized for not crediting dayday as her inspiration. Knörr tells Rolling Stone that she made a “huge mistake” failing to credit dayday and is “very sorry.”
On July 13, dayday, Knörr and the Guggenheim museum reached a solution where both works will be shown side-by-side, Rolling Stone reports. Rather than taking down Knörr’s paintings, Blue will now be exhibited alongside the artist statement, which now also says that Knörr “directly incorporates images inspired from the 5-minute film Blue (2022).” Photographer dayday shared the news in an Instagram post.
“By tangibly linking the works together, we can begin to reflect on the dual erasure of the cowboys of the Basque country together,” dayday writes. “We can begin to reflect on the dual erasure of the cowboys of the Basque country and African-American cowboys in the United States from history.”