(Read below interesting thoughts about "copying" - from nature and each other's artwork)

Original art only

April 11, 2008
Robert Genn

Yesterday, Roger Asselin of St. Petersburg, Florida wrote: "I
always see 'Original art only' as a prerequisite to entering
art shows. A definition is seldom forthcoming. Is this like one
of those rooms you are not supposed to enter until the preacher
comes to visit, or do you make your own rules and endure the
consequences if you're wrong?"

Thanks, Roger. It's been my thought that some juried shows need
an appointed ombudsman to draw a line between copying and
research. This person needs to be knowledgeable, professional,
impartial and accountable. Working with or without fellow
jurors, his or her decision needs to be final. Some ombudsmen
will be tougher than others. In throwing things out, there will
be errors of both commission and omission. Entering artists
need to understand it's just a juried show. They need to know
that juried shows generally reflect conventional wisdom and
that long-term careers seldom hinge on them.

That being said, the history of copying has had its ups and
downs. When it comes to loose definitions, 'original art' takes
the cigar. Trouble is, copying other people's work and other
people's subject matter is a traditional means of gaining
proficiency. In the 15th Century, the granddaddy of all art
teachers, Cennino Cennini, asked students to "Take pains and
pleasure in constantly copying the best works you can find."
Nowadays many instructors tell students to drag it out of the
inner man at all costs, even if there's not much of an inner
man to drag it out of.


In 1890 Paul Gauguin noted, "Out in the sun, painters are lined
up. The first is copying nature, the second is copying the
first, the third is copying the second
." Nowadays painters
actually take printed reference, even shaded laptops with
popular images, out into the sun. The lines between copying and
research lie in the shade
. "Paintings are but research," said
Pablo Picasso.
For both little and big name artists, research
can turn into plagiarism. Andy Warhol made a big success of
proliferating prints from someone else's copyright photos
of
Marilyn. And Picasso had something to say about that too:
"Success is dangerous," he said. "One begins to copy oneself,
and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others
.
It
leads to sterility."

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Every conceivable aspect of painting has its roots in
copying. Painters are by nature copyists
." (Leonard Niles)

(Pygoya: "I just take copying to a new level or applied direction as digital artist")

Esoterica: Good luck to Mary Jones should she enter a copy of a
well known photo from the National Geographic. Come to think of
it, people break the speed limit every day, and only a few are
noticed, let alone caught and fined. These days we aspire to
justice, idealism and the rights of individuals to private
ownership. We just don't enforce them very well. Maybe we
can't, because the nature of art demands freedom. These days we
honour freedom and abhor control. "Art," said Marshall McLuhan,
"is what you can get away with."