Sunday, March 19, 2006

When does an artist make his ideas "public domain" for the sake of the greater movement?

Picasso's Daughter says, “They're Fake!”

Maya Widmaier-Picasso, the artist's daughter, who authenticates his work, says that drawings sold on Costco are not by him. "Those two works, photographs of which were shown to her by The New York Times, were offered by the dealer with certificates in French saying that Ms. Widmaier-Picasso had authenticated them. Pointing to anomalies in the certificates — grammatical errors, wording that departed from her style, handwriting that did not match hers and the placement of words on the page — the artist's daughter said both documents were forgeries." The New York Times 03/18/06

This is an obvious attempt at forgery of a famous artist’s work for profit… I won’t even get into the ridiculous nature of a cost-saving-club and big-box-store being involved.

However this occurs at a very interesting moment in the modern “information age”. The publishing world is inundated with issues of plagiarism and misrepresentations. It now seems to have spread into the art world. Forgery has certainly always been an issue for artists – but now Picasso is being forged and this is a man that prided his thieving tendencies with the following phrases:

  • If there is something to steal, I steal it!
  • Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.
  • Bad artists copy. Great artists steal!

So by his words what do these actions of forgery really say? Are we at such a loss artistically that pseudo-collectors will pay $39k for Picasso drawings, when they could get an entire collection of work by contemporary artists for only a portion of that sum?

Forgery though, is not the real issue of importance to me – as a working artist of as-yet-undiscovered consequence. I have built a body of work upon a foundation of themes, style and unique material presentation. My immediate reaction to anyone taking these ideas (which I have cultivated) and using them to present their own work – is that this act is an abomination. I undeniably stole many of the basic principals of materials and style from the ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures; but at the same time I nurtured the primary roots of these cultures to produce a new breed of “hanging scrolls” and Sumi-e style. I found a manner of establishing modern relevance in the ancient styles via modern or local site-specific materials (such as my Tamrisk sticks harvested from the Rio Grande) and hand-made inks (my recipes are of my own creation and the mixtures are known only to me).

So if I consider the acquisition of these ideas by other artists “an abomination” – how do I defend my notion of formulating an aggressive and relevant art movement? How else can an art movement exist except with the open rule of distribution – without limits? Under what circumstances is the liberation of intellectual property good? I know better than to naively believe Michelangelo single-handedly created his style of realism during the Renaissance. Likewise, years later – I know that not all the artists of the Impressionism movement cleared their designs with Manet (often considered the father of the movement), prior to executing a painting.

So the question is this:

When faced with the beginning acts of the institutional acquisition of my ideas and style by other artists – How should I react in a manner keeping with the concepts of initiating a new art movement? – DN

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey North, I was in Columbia Falls in the Super One grocery store and in the front of the store, low and behold, Dollylittle and Kincaide prints in nice stacks with a nice oak frame and fancy increments like arrowheads and arrow shafts with them, for a small pitence of 200 to 300 dollars! and groceries too! Your stop and shop for art store! Made me laugh.
After all it is a supervalue!