Visual Art Copying Art, Part I
posted by June 6 at 9:38 AMon
Remember when I wrote about the Cai Guo-Qiang tumble of cars at the Seattle Art Museum that was also, somewhat mysteriously, at the Guggenheim in New York at the same time?
It turned out that the one in New York was an “exhibition copy” made by the artist.
It delivered the same experience as the original, was created painstakingly by the artist, and was made of basically the same readymade parts.
So why wasn’t it an original again?
I answer that question and raise lots of others in a new story in Newsweek.
This was one of those stories that was really fun to report. Curators responded with great tales of their own experiences with copies. I couldn’t fit them all in the piece. Here’s one that got cut but that I love:
For an exhibition including Allan Kaprow’s “activity books” at the Getty, curator Glenn Phillips wanted visitors to be able to handle the books, to read them—not just to look at them as sculptural objects.
So, he set about having copies made.
But the technology was almost too good. When he got the facsimiles, they felt to him like ethical hot potatoes.
“They were so shockingly good that my first inclination was that we had to ensure that they would be destroyed” after the show, Phillips said.
He also decided to have the word “COPY” stamped right on their covers.
One of the best parts of my research for this story was a symposium the Tate conducted last year, called “Inherent Vice: The Replica and its Implications in Modern Sculpture,” and you can read all the papers presented there, along with a thoughtful series of after-commentaries, here.
I’ll be back soon with more great copying stories, including a tantrum thrown by Carl Andre and a pair of curators who made shows entirely of copies…