Skip to comments.NYT Touts White House Artworks, Misses Obvious Copy, Apparent Fraud (Freeper Breaks the Story)
Posted on 10/08/2009 12:05:05 PM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
Yesterday, the NYT ran a story about the White House acquiring art. It included a slide show of a dozen artworks.
This Freeper took a look and found one abstract work he admired:
"Watusi (Hard Edge)," by Alma Thomas, a longtime Washington resident who is an African-American painter. Photo: Gift of Vincent Melzac/Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
As I admired it, I thought it reminiscent, even derivative of a favorite artwork of mine by Matisse. I recall seeing that one decades ago at the Tate Gallery in London. A giant collage (about ten feet tall) from late in Matisse's life, when his eyesight was failing:
The Snail (L'escargot), by Henri Matisse, Nice-Cimiez, Hotel Regina, [summer 1952-early] 1953, Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on white paper, 9'4 3/4" x 9' 5" (287 x 288 cm) collection Tate Gallery, London.
I had planned to post them for comparison, and to share my admiration for both. But when I saw them side-by-side, the similarity clarified. I realized that the new one was EXACTLY the same composition as the Matisse, rotated 90 degrees.
Is this fraud? If the new piece has been titled "Homage to Collage" or "Matisse in Blue", I would think the artist wasn't trying to hide the copying. But I wonder whether anyone realized that the artist copied almost every aspect of a famous work to sell her artwork. Perhaps everyone involved knew that this is a re-colored reprint. If not, it seems to be an embarrassment for the "sophisticates" who failed to spot a copy hiding in plain sight.
As too many people say about abstract expressionist art: "Even I could have done THAT!"
Yes, I can provide you with some examples; Picasso is actually considered one of the first appropriation artists, although candidly the ‘appropriation art’ of artists like Sherri Levine is much beyond what he ever did.
Here are a couple of quotes I think you’ll find of interest. The first is about Picasso, and the second is by Picasso himself, both are from the same source:
“Picasso was criticised for his interpretation or appropriation of other artists’ work. Today this art practice is widely accepted.”
‘What is an artist, basically? He’s a collector who wants to establish a collection of his own, making the pictures himself that he likes by other people. That’s how I begin, and then it turns into something else.’
Here’s another quote from Wikipedia:
“During 1957 Pablo Picasso painted 58 recreations of Las Meninas.” (Las Meninas is a painting originally by Diego Velázquez)
Picasso is actually known for recreating numerous paintings by other “Old Masters,” including Cezanne and Manet. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find images on the web; presumably this is because their current owners are less flexible on copyright law than he was :)
Also, I apologize for overreacting in my last post; I haven’t given you enough credit and I took this too personally. I do understand where you’re coming from, and I realize we are coming from vastly opposing viewpoints.
Looks like someone kidnapped the Dutch Boy and this is the ransom note.
To my knowledge - a study or copy of another artist's painting is not renamed & it is explained right on the copy of the painting - not explained somewhere else. One should not have to search around to identify it as a copy.
The proper signature would read: By Alma Thomas after The Snail (L'escargot), by Henri Matisse
There are twelve ‘shapes’ inside the border of the Matisse, only eleven in the rip-off.
Oops! I am mistaken! After downloading both pictures and comparing them side-by-side, the NEA version is an obvious effort to try and use the Matisse as a pattern for a ripoff.
Looks to me like some used childrens colored construction paper to snip out shapes like Matisse’s and place them on a background then photographed and fabricated this piece of ‘art’, then perhaps used the cut outs to fill in paint for an ‘originial’.
If I thought the Matisse was worth copying and hanging on my wall, that’s the process I’d use to make a precise copy with paint.
A copy of the original does not have to be an exact duplicate of the original artist's work.
It should, however not be renamed & signed by the copying artist - which would imply that it is the copy artist's original work.
If it is properly signed by the copy artist, identifying the original artist - there is nothing wrong with doing that.
I agree. I have a cousin who does fabulous copies of great master works. She never tries to claim she owns the originals though she signs all her works as far as I know. She is very talented at even matching the colors. IIRC, she frames her paintings and places a photo of the original on the back, with short explanation. Her work is so precise, I asked her first time I saw them if she used paint by numbers canvases. She was not amused.
That's a great way to study & learn from the masters. Some museums let the artists bring their easels in order to paint from the originals.
I believe the purpose of the identifying signature on the copy makes sure that the painting stays identified in the case that it would be unframed, etc.
Exactly. The question here is when it was clear in the art community that this was a rotated Matisse. From
By explicitly crediting Yanari, she makes clear that the relation between the paintings was not widely known by the time. And this was 34 years after the painting was made. So yes, it was probably known "for decades" that Watusi was inspired by Matisse but the fact that it was actually a copy was not. That only came out in the open in 1998.
Does that make it a fraudulent copy? We have to be careful here, but it definitely does not look good.
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