CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


"M," grade 6, used this reference as inspiration for her soft sculpture
Artists "Appropriate" when they take someone's work and "make it their own." There are rules about this. In the working world of professional artists, the resulting artwork has to be significantly changed - "transformed," or copyright infringement can result. Just ask Jeff Koons...
Does the student artwork above meet this test?
Does the Koon's sculpture (above)?
(Hint: Koons was sued and lost)
There is considerable leeway in educational settings, however, and the rules are not the same for students as for professional artists who profit financially from their artwork. It has always been common practice for art students to copy works of art in order to learn. I have a lovely book of paintings Pablo Picasso made inspired by other artworks (Picasso's Variations on the Masters) - didn't he "copy"? Is it okay? Isn't it ironic that so many  school art projects copy Picasso's paintings and style and then teachers warn students that they shouldn't "copy" from sources the student selects?
Modern and contemporary artists routinely appropriate imagery from pop culture (Warhol, Liechtenstein).  Brabara Kruger won a lawsuit against brought her, even though she blatantly used another artist's original photograph in her work (below).  
Art class is the perfect place to ponder this issue, to debate what is fair use and what is not, what is "copying" (a term students know well!) and what is referencing. It is a complex issue, full of nuance, just exactly the kind of topic from which students (and their teachers) can learn the most.