Glenn Brown and the great plagiarism debate

I'd like to think that the ideals of painting have developed since arts patronage. The development of more considered approaches: discussion rather than answers. As a painter myself, I constantly seek gratification in coming up with new ideas and purposes for art. But how? Can anything ever be original anymore?

Glenn Brown, a British painter, was nominated for the 2000 Turner Prize. After this warm, embracing hug from the more prominent and respected part of the art world, Brown was accused - by some - of plagiarism. Regardless of what plagiarism means based on dictionary definitions, surely the "presentation of new and original idea or product derived from an existing source" means something completely different when considering it in the development of modernist and post-modernist ideas of art - especially ideas of appropriation.

Left: Millet, “The First Steps” (1858) Right: Van Gogh, “First Steps” (1890). Even a great one dabbled with "plagiarism".

Brown's work not only had prior permission to be re-worked but also includes the original source and artist in the title. His process is incredibly methodical: finding a source, editing the source and repainting. The very idea that he chooses a source in the first place is determined by intrigue: can he rework this already purposed work of art and what is the new meaning. These are the discussions we should be involved in, not accusing a perfectly talented artist seeking new challenges in the perception, purpose/meaning of art and his credibility.

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2 years ago
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@rubymc, @ErinGibbs and @katie1357 - what do you think with regards to the limitations?

I suggest looking at the debate knowing that Roy Lichtenstein was accused similarly.. "context" seems to be the deciding factor.

2 years ago
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I think it's fine if you reference or take influence from other artists work e.g compositions, colours or ideas. But there should be a limit to how much should be copied, not a direct replica. There should be signs of a twist of the image, more development.

2 years ago
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@rubymc. Do you regard the Roberts "copy" more worthy of being considered Brown's own work?

Could it be interpreted further that source materials are used to fuel the creative process.. we can look deeper into the idea of the "homage": Hockney and Picasso for instance.

2 years ago
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I looked at Hockney's homage to Picasso, I feel like this differs from Brown and Roberts comparison. As there is enough of Hockney's style to distinguish it from Picasso, making it a separate artwork. It clearly shows Hockney's ideas as an admirer of Picasso. Whereas Brown and Roberts are too similar to say that it's separate artworks. It seems that the rework is just a brightened, more modern version of the original.

2 years ago
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@rubymc what I'm trying to say is, you can merely reduce all aspects of paintings to the basics. So, for example a lot of colour field painting is very similar.
When Brown "plagiarised" Auerbach, it is completely different due to the style. Auerbach's thick impasto against Brown's distinctly surreal-liquified version is new, it can't be a direct copy.

Hockney refers to actual Picasso's. Surely the referencing is the main issue here and not just the basic: what the painting is?

Think of it in terms of Sherrie Levine. Roy Lichtenstein's original source material is different, but the main different is because of the new context. In this case - Foss and Roberts' work are illustrations for books - Brown's purpose is painting, art....more?

2 years ago
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I think the same as Kerry first said; as long as he has permission I think it's fine. I do agree with Ruby though, there should maybe be a twist of the image. Like when people stick a mustach on the Mona Lisa.

2 years ago
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@ErinGibbs, but changing the colours/hue is surely the same as a moustache. The image is still the basic image?

2 years ago
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Yeah, then surley that's alright then?

2 years ago
1

I think plagiarism in Brown's context is okay because it's not like he has directly copied Van Gogh's work.He has put his own spin on it and I think if Van Gogh was alive today he would be proud that people are still passionate enough for his work that they are using it as an inspiration.I also think this level of Criticism with plagiarism can be dangerous because where does it stop. Will it go to the point where people will be afraid of creating artwork in case they are accused of copying someone.

4 months ago
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