So far, the debate about artistic copyright has been safely in the realm of design and photography — with certain exceptions, of course — but how will that conversation change when anything can be easily reproduced and presented without proof of origin or even the original artist’s touch? These are questions that emerged when I saw Alfred Steiner’s “Erased Schulnik (Diptych)” (2010), which is currently on display at Norte Maar’s Guilt / (NOT) Guilty* exhibition in Bushwick.
A copyright lawyer by day, Steiner bought a glob-erific clown painting by Allison Schulnik at Canada gallery on the Lower East Side. He then proceeded to have a replica of the work fabricated on a ZPrinter 650 3D printer. The result is a quite good monochromatic reproduction of the painting that is full of the brushstrokes and textures that until recently we thought we couldn’t so easily reproduce.
Looking at the potential in this art work, I realized it was only a matter of time (months?) before paintings with their grooves and quirks could be churned out at will. Will we soon all be able to own a perfect reproduction of a Picasso that only x-ray machines and laboratories will be able to say is a “fake”?
I am excited by the new frontier Steiner’s work suggests. I think the piece is thought-provoking and full of contradictions — if they are both part of the same work, is there really a fake, what if I like the copy better than the original? The title is an obvious reference to Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased de Kooning” (1953) and I feel like it is a wink — or slap — at the once revered status artists had as singular creators, that special status feels somewhat compromised.
Norte Maar’s director, Jason Andrew, explained to me that the copy is rather heavy as it is reputedly made from a dense carbon — hanging on the wall you wouldn’t know.
In the press materials for the show it mentions:
To cover himself legally, [the artist] sent an e-mail to give [Schulnik] a head’s up that he’d done the deed. She’s not worried. Yet.”
I wonder if painters are threatened by the possibility that artists (and maybe corporations or governments) in the future will be able to reproduce, remix and reconfigure their works — brushstrokes and all — into new versions or perfect copies.
I wonder if this changes the debate in the minds of non-photographers, who until now weren’t faced with the possibility that they could be copied this easily.
Then again, this may cause great relief to some painters, museums, galleries and collectors, who in the future won’t bother to ship art — which is an expensive, difficult and laborious process — and instead simply print out copies for exhibit around the world.
Up until now print makers and artists who used mechanical means to create work (think Dan Flavin, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger) were at an advantage because they could churn out works and editions until their hearts content. They could show the same work in three different cities simultaneously, but this may just level the playing field. So much potential in such a small work.
Guilty / (NOT) Guilty* continues at Norte Maar (83 Wyckoff Avenue, #1B, Bushwick, Brooklyn) until January 29.
In an exhibition that consists of mostly small-scale black and white works on paper, viewer engagement almost magically awakens the sleepy room.
Maria Maea’s All in Time continues an intergenerational conversation and exemplifies the artist’s process, not simply the finished pieces.
The program, along with recently announced visiting critics, will provide long term funding, promote access, and safeguard experimentation for future students of color.
Koestler Arts works with incarcerated people and patients in secure mental health units, aiming to improve their lives through creativity.
Local artists and culture workers are wondering how the arena will impact the arts landscape, including museums and alternative spaces.
Huaca Pintada comprises a rare mixture of elements of two northern Peruvian civilizations.
Lensa AI’s digital avatars have captivated users, but some say the app is stealing from artists and reflects racial stereotypes.
Contemporary art, original sketches, and more explore how the Japanese character sprung from the pages of a manga and became a global cultural sensation.
New research contests the myth that it was Christianity’s opposition to public nudity that led to the decline in large-scale bathing in the late Roman Empire.
An exhibition at San Francisco’s Letterform Archive highlights typography’s role in iconic social movements from the 1800s through the present.
Eleven Contemporary Artists Explore the Meaning of Shelter at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Artists collaborate with nonprofit institutions and field experts to examine historical and contemporary determinants of housing and the feelings of safety and connection integral to places of living.
Rocks, ducks, and a self-organized survey of Gingham are some of the things to see right now in four Chicago art galleries.
Three weeks into their strike, part-time professors are escalating their protests, backed by public figures and disgruntled parents.