On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Translations: Creative copying and originality

In art, copying on August 4, 2005 at 9:48 pm

All creativity builds on the past. This blog post is merely a reflection on that fact. (It is loosely based on an exhibition at Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 14/7 to 9/9 2005.)

They said that when I began in Paris I copied Toulouse-Lautrec and Steinlen; possible, but never was a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec or Steinlen taken for mine. It is better to copy a drawing or painting than to try to be inspired by it, to make something similar. In that case one risks painting only the faults of the model. A painter’s atelier should be a laboratory. One doesn’t make a monkey’s job there: one invents.   (Pablo Picasso)

Allowing a multitude of approaches to the source (record, exercise, parody, quotation, paraphrase, exorcism, caricature, metamorphosis, transformation, catalyst), copying has enabled artists to establish their own voices, to invoke and reject precedents and declare affinities, to measure distances and declare new goals. In some cases the most radically advanced work has been deeply indebted to history (For example, Cezanne’s Bathers or Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon).

Rembrandt → Frank Auerbach → Glenn Brown
Pierre Puget, Peter Paul Rubens and The Antiquity → Paul Cezanne
Daumier → Peter Doig
Degas → Howard Hodgkin and Rebecca Warren
Petrus Christus → Gary Hume
Manet → Pablo Picasso
Jan van Eyck and Georges Seurat → Bridget Riley

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