January 19, 2017

"Even the chance position of a bird perched on a lamppost has been reproduced, the man who took the photograph was astonished to discover."

Bob's copying again.

What's worse — that Bob painted from somebody else's photograph or that Bob called it America when it was actually England?

56 comments:

Big Mike said...

Atlantic storms preclude building wooden structures that far out from the safety of shore. The Atlantic coast is riddled with the remnants of once-substantial piers that were washed away.

Big Mike said...

Sorry, I'm writing about the buildings out st the end of the pier. The piers themselves are often rebuilt if the locale has the money for it.

traditionalguy said...

The times they are a changing. Prophet Bob is telling us that England has been a province of the USA for 60+ years.

AReasonableMan said...

What's worst is the actual painting.

Mike Sylwester said...

Ann, less than a year from now you will be embarrassed that you did not write one post critical of Bob Dylan while he was being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2016.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Both are pretty disappointing. Copying and mislabeling the painting.

Fernandinande said...

For a second there I thought it was Bob Ross - whew!

AReasonableMan said...
What's worst is the actual painting.


Pretty sure it's from a P-shop plugin.

Arthur James said...
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Arthur James said...

To me incidental. A powerful painting, the tension and subtle violence in the strokes is masterful, a mind seeing something, saying something. He is wrong sometimes. Does that really surprise? Dylan also copied a photograph of a taxi in NYC for an album cover. The photograph was already used for an album cover by Dean Wareham and his band Luna. Dean felt nothing but complimented, stressing only admiration for Dylan.

Levi Starks said...

So, copywrite law and photography go back a ways, and there have been cases in which courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who claimed infringement when a "duplicate" photo was produced by a 2nd photographer who went to the exact same place, and "captured" as it were an identical scene. I believe the most infamous example is in the case of one of Ansel Adams Yosemite images.
If the same scene were rendered in paint, or some other media what would the result be? I'm guessing the same, primarily because copywrite laws are written by lawyers who can make more money by enforcing them than not.
I'm currently working with an IPAD/android app called Camera lucida that allows you to trace as it were images in stored on your device. And when I say trace, it's not in the conventional way, rather, using the devices camera to view your work surface it creates an apparent layer of translucence that you see through.
As a matter of expediency I use only images of my own making as the source for my work. Not because I consider it unethical to do otherwise, but because I have a large collection of photos to choose from.
In the case of Bob Dylan I hardly think it matters. Neither the source image or the judged quality of the finished painting matter that much, rather the essential element is that Bob Dylan as a celebrity applied the paint. If he were to buy a gallon of white paint, and paint a wall white, the value of both the wall and the paint would be increased by far more than if you or I had done the painting. (Provided you could establish provenance)
But when it comes to art of this genre I much prefer the Portraits of former president Bush.

CWJ said...

We need a "throbbing gif" ala Rathergate's TANG memo.

harryo said...

"what's worse?"

There is no worse.

We are talking about a narcissist with no empathy.

But then, people who display their art in galleries, are all assholes anyway.

Just my opinion.

SayAahh said...

"Dylan's representatives have been contacted for comment."
Ya think?

Smilin' Jack said...

What's worse — that Bob painted from somebody else's photograph or that Bob called it America when it was actually England?

Meh--let it slide. At least when he's "painting" he's not "singing".

David said...

I wish Bob were performing at the Trump inauguration. What a mind fuck that would be.

SayAahh said...

When asked about her painting of Dylan, Monica Crowley did not respond.

FullMoon said...
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FullMoon said...
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Jake said...

Levi:

It is copyright law not copywrite law.

Ann Althouse said...

"In the exhibition’s catalogue, Dylan says that “in some cases my hand couldn’t do what my eye was perceiving. So I went to the camera obscura method.”"

I think that means he projected the photographic image onto the canvas to guide his painting, not that he took the photograph.

Paddy O said...

When you're famous you can reach out and grab photographs.

Quaestor said...

Art students spend a lot of time copying other artists, which helps them learn technique. However, copying from a photograph is hardly copying at all since the techniques are so fundamentally different. What Dylan has copied in this case is mainly composition. One could call both works an exercise in fundamentals of perspective, in each case the perspective of horizontal distance — the horizontal lines converge while the verticals remain parallel. Basic art school stuff since Brunelleschi. The difference is the painter must create perspective while the photographer enjoys the benefits of optics. As for titles. Modern artists are obsessed with naming their work, which is an indication of the weakness of the modernism. Many of the most powerful and influential works have no titles other than those invented by art historians. Artists are well advised to conquer the urge to title. Let the work speak for itself. If it can't, then the artist's problem is more severe than can be corrected by writing a title on a card.

Quaestor said...

I think that means he projected the photographic image onto the canvas to guide his painting, not that he took the photograph.

Check this out.

Paddy O said...

"However, copying from a photograph is hardly copying at all since the techniques are so fundamentally different."

Shepard Fairey could not be reached for comment. Still working off his community service.

FullMoon said...

Ann Althouse said...

"In the exhibition’s catalogue, Dylan says that “in some cases my hand couldn’t do what my eye was perceiving. So I went to the camera obscura method.”"


Imagine him kinda hunched over, mumbling that sentence with a half smile and a twinkle in his eye. ...

"....What’s probably got you baffled more
Is what this thing here is for
It’s nothing
It’s something I learned over in England .."

TWW said...

The painting of a photograph is an artistic interpretation; it's not copying in the sense of Xeroxing. Perhaps attribution was due.

Quaestor said...

There is something fundamentally wrong when Shepard Fairey is mentioned anywhere near Jan Vermeer is even referenced.

SayAahh said...

"I think he means he projected......"
Why is it always a necessity to ask the question of what Dylan means?
Fame established on enigmatic artistry.
There are precedents for that.

Levi Starks said...

Actually if you're really interested, technique, of making perfect copies of the real world in the land before photography,
There are 2 videos worth watching. Most recently in a Penn and Teller documentary called Tims Vermeer, also a much older piece don by David Hockney exploring the secret of the old masters.

Paddy O said...

"There is something fundamentally wrong when Shepard Fairey is mentioned anywhere near Jan Vermeer is even referenced."

We live in a diminished era.

Just wait until Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Art!

Quaestor said...

Dylan says that “in some cases my hand couldn’t do what my eye was perceiving..."

He isn't alone in that complaint. The tools that have been used to assist the creation of perspective are amazing examples of inventiveness and practical mathematics.

Paddy O said...

This reminds me of the painting I made of the California Capitol building a few years ago. I feel like it really brings out the sense of Western possibilities and community engagement of our setting.

Ann Althouse said...

The painting is a derivative work in the meaning of copyright law. From the govt's website:

"Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to pre- pare, or to authorize someone else to create, an adaptation of that work. The owner of a copyright is generally the author or someone who has obtained the exclusive rights from the author. In any case where a copyrighted work is used without the permission of the copyright owner, copyright protection will not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully. The unauthorized adaption of a work may constitute copyright infringement."

That doesn't answer all the question, but it shows where the questions are.

mockturtle said...

Fame established on enigmatic artistry.

Many years ago I heard an interview with Bob Dylan in which he was asked to discuss the meaning of some of his lyrics. He replied that his lyrics didn't mean anything but that people apply whatever meanings they want to them. Sort of like a lot of modern paintings and sculptures.

Ann Althouse said...

"The difference is the painter must create perspective while the photographer enjoys the benefits of optics."

That painter doesn't have to work on perspective if the photograph is projected onto the canvas.

Ann Althouse said...

@FullMoon

That lyric crossed my mind as I was writing the post.

Quaestor said...

We live in a diminished era.

How true.

The problem today isn't fake art. The problem today is fake artists, many of whom hold tenure in major universities.

Have you ever noticed how many people preface their remarks with soi-disant creds? Every time I hear "As an artist, I..." I know that everything to the right of that first indefinite article is a lie.

Quaestor said...

"That painter doesn't have to work on perspective if the photograph is projected onto the canvas."

Wouldn't that depend on the degree of realism the painter is trying to achieve?

Paddy O said...
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Paddy O said...

Fake artists indeed. Bottom of the triangle. The titles and cards are important because the text is the real priority these days, conceptualizing a meaning rather than mastering a creative art.

Probably why after spending a day at a art festival at The Brewery in Los Angeles I felt empty and discouraged.

Meanwhile, walking through The Getty and seeing a painting by Caspar David Friedrich not long afterwards caused a positive change that still resonates.

Quaestor said...

The painting is a derivative work in the meaning of copyright law.

Did the photographer obtain the written permission of the architect of that building with the cupola in the background?

C Stanley said...

ARM beat me to it...it's not a very good painting. It's not terrible, but the photo is much better than the derivative painting. In the photo, the viewer's eye is drawn to the sky and you then notice the light hitting the surface of the pier, and the shadows it creates. Dylan seems to have completely missed all of that, putting in way too much detail on the pier itself instead of editing the details to tell the story. It's just not a "painterly" painting at all.

The issue of appropriation and attribution reminded me that I once asked Professor Althouse for permission to paint from her excellent photos, which I've unfortunately not had time to do. Hopefully in 2017!

dbp said...

I think the painting improves on the photo in a number of ways: The sky is distractingly bright and there is an irritating glare on the decking in the photograph. The painting has interesting and stormy looking sky and you can make out details in the buildings that are just black looking blobs in the photo.

FullMoon said...
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Quaestor said...

...you're just average, and common, too.

Nasty manners you have there, Fullmoon.

FullMoon said...

Quaestor said... [hush]​[hide comment]

...you're just average, and common, too.

Nasty manners you have there, Fullmoon


Can't help it, cause, I'm just like him and the same as you


Ann Althouse said...

"That painter doesn't have to work on perspective if the photograph is projected onto the canvas."

"Wouldn't that depend on the degree of realism the painter is trying to achieve?"

No. If he wants to be realistic he follows the lines in the projected photograph. If he wants to diverge from realism he distorts away from the lines in the photograph. He does not get out a straightedge and draw a horizon and make a vanishing point, etc., which is what I mean by working on perspective. The work isn't done. As it was for the photographer, the perspective is done by the machine.

Lovernios said...

I did a couple of watercolors using this projection method back in the early 70’s when I was stationed in Hanau, Germany with HHB 3rd Armored Division Artillery. One was of an M110 8” Self-Propelled Howitzer and the other of a M109 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. They were requested by the commanding officer, Col. Floyd C. Adams, Jr. They were framed and hung in the headquarters building, not much of a gallery. I wonder if they are still there.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, FullMoon. I get it.

Lovernios said...

By the way, congratulations on your retirement. Tomorrow I will be exactly three years away from mine. Perhaps I'll be able to spend more time on the hobby we share, photography.

Thanks for hosting a great blog.

FullMoon said...

Quaestor said... [hush]​[hide comment]

...you're just average, and common, too.

Nasty manners you have there, Fullmoon


"twas a flirt, not an insult.

Earnest Prole said...

Applying Rogers v Koons Dylan is likely guilty of copyright infringement. If Koons’ sculptural puppies infringe on the black-and-white photo, surely Dylan’s borrowing does as well.

Ann Althouse said...

I was thinking about the Koons puppies too.

Koons took sentimental tripe, reproduced it accurately and supposedly added his irony or whatever.

Dylan seems to have taken a slightly artistic photography and just painted it up in a cheerful straightforward way. But Dylan's transition to painting makes it very different just because of the loose painting technique.

Ann Althouse said...

Re Vermeer

I read the Hockney piece long ago.

When Dylan said "camera obscura" he didn't mean that whole setup you had to use in the days before cameras, but I think he meant to refer to painting over a projection.

Earnest Prole said...

When Koons’ and Rogers’ works are placed side-by-side as photographs, they seem quite similar. But if the black-and-white photo (originally a postcard) were placed on the bench of the three-dimensional color sculpture (seen in a gallery here), the disparity between the two would be obvious. I think it’s a crappy legal precedent, and I don't see any problem with Dylan's borrowing. Most art is referential in some way or another to a previous work of art: that’s what we call culture.

Earnest Prole said...

When Dylan said "camera obscura" he didn't mean that whole setup you had to use in the days before cameras, but I think he meant to refer to painting over a projection.

Agreed. And if (as Hockney claims) the masters used optical techniques to produce their masterpieces, how can we criticize Dylan for using the same techniques to paint his? (wink)