Beg, Steal & Borrow: Artists Against Originality
by Robert Shore
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Laurence King Publishing (Oct. 24 2017)
It wasn’t until I got this book home and had it sitting on my coffee table for a few days, that I noticed the small black sticker adorning the front cover. “This is not a Penguin book” the sticker reads, a wry comment on the graphic design of the book about copyright and ideas of originality, a design copied, no, stolen from Penguin classics. Like the sticker, the contents of the book are both informative, engaging, and funny.
This book is an interesting overview of changing conceptions of originality in the artworld, and how the law has evolved and at times overstepped in the desire to protect the sanctity of the creator’s work.
The author also lays out a case for the allowance of looser copyright laws in order to expand the sharing of creative ideas and to help them disseminate throughout the culture,in the same manner as memes, an idea first expressed by Richard Dawkins.
One fascinating case study of how artists build on the work of others, and how modern laws undermine this practice begins with the painting The Judgment of Paris by Raphael. This painting, long since lost, was reproduced by the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi. This engraving then influenced Manet 300 years later, and was the basis for the figures’ poses in his masterwork Le Dejeuner sur L’Herbe. Picasso, 100 years after Manet, created a whole series based around Manet’s famous painting and called it Les Dejeuners. Now, with modern copyright laws extending to 70 years after the creators death, an artist quoting Picasso in her work would be put into a precarious legal position for copyright infringement. The irony of the risk of being sued for copying a copy of a copy of a copy….
March 26 2018 posted by Peter D Harris