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“Good artists copy, great artists steal”
Four boys discovered the Lascaux cave accidentally in 1940; a French cave complex with more than 600 parietal paintings estimated at 17,000 years old. The most famous cave being ‘The Hall of Bulls’. That same year Picasso would visit the cave. Emerging to say, “They’ve invented everything.” In 1945 Picasso created The Bull, a series of 11 Lithographs. The caves weren’t available for public viewing until 1948.
“The greater danger for most of us lies … in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
Discobulus of Myron, a Greek sculpture from the Classical Period of which the Renaissance was based, figures an athletic youth throwing a discus. The work survives via numerous studies by Roman artists. Like those 1200 years before Michelangelo would spend his youth studying works of the Classical Period, under the Medici. Studies which lead to the penultimate symbol of the Renaissance, ‘David’.
“I came to feel an artist might use anything to say what he(or she) wanted to say.”
Davinci’s Mona Lisa is perhaps the world’s most well-known painting. Studied endlessly Marcel Duchamp was the first to parody the work in 1919. As what Duchamp referred to as a ‘readymade’: common objects altered, renamed, and placed in a proper setting. L.H.O.O.Q is a cheap print of the Mona Lisa onto which Duchamp drew a moustache and beard in pencil then appended the title.
Reporter: So you’ve just copied a household item then? Why have you bothered to do that? Andy: Because it’s easier to do.
In 1916 bottlers of Coca-Cola formed a committee and convened to select a design. Soon distinct green bottles with an embossed script began to appear nationwide. Thirty years later less than 1% of Americans could not identify a Coke bottle by shape alone. In 1962 Andy Warhol displayed hand-painted depictions of the bottle in an art show The Grocery Store.
Show me something you think original and I’ll show you a lack of reference.
The Beatles lifted lyrics and melodies from Chuck Berry. Hunter S. Thompson typed out Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby word for word while practicing prose. Vermeer traced his images using Camera Obscura. Originality is just a pseudonym for ‘beg, borrow, and steal’.
Creativity is being brave enough to rip something off.
*Disclaimer: This zine features digital reproductions of famous works.