By Deon Soogrim, Clark Intern
The Clark’s Copycat exhibit displayed a wide range of drawing, printmaking, and photographic techniques used for reproduction. Artistic creativity and intention vary depending on the artist and the work being copied. The works being displayed demonstrated the possibilities and limitations of past methods of reproducing art.
The computer application Adobe Photoshop has expanded the ways in which reproductions can be used to expand a work’s subject matter or to add comedy. Bouguereau’s Nymphs and Satyr is popularly used as source material that is manipulated and expanded upon. We have found examples of his Satyr replaced with subjects like Spider-Man—and the entire painting being re-imagined as a Manga animation. We have also seen great works of art being incorporated into advertisements and creative responses to older works.
Nothing is safe.
Many works in the Clark’s collection have been appropriated by artists, advertisers, and copycats around the globe. I have collected a wide range of reproductions ranging from the artistic study to fantastic manipulations.
Degas remains as a source of artistic inspiration and study. Here a fellow artist has chosen to do a study of one of Degas’s ballerina paintings using oil pastel and charcoal. He does not cite a specific source of inspiration for this copy, but we can see clear similarities with the Clark’s Dancers in a Classroom. The artist uses a similar subject matter as Degas’s painting, paying attention to the ballerina’s scale and the way in which the frills of her tutu are rendered. Also the light rose-pink color unites the two paintings, though the artist uses a more vibrant color palette than the earth tones that Degas employs.
This artist employs Degas’s ballerina sculptures as a starting point to create a unique interpretation. This work by Flickr user “Citybumpkin” modifies the Old Master’s work by using a light painting photography technique. We see the sculpture’s negative shape surrounded by crackling light and energy through the use of long exposure settings and L.E.D. lights. Improvements in modern technology has given the artist new and exciting tools with which to reproduce and create unique works based works by artists like Degas.
Examples of reproduced images do not need to remain tied to their source imagery. This artist from DeviantArt.com completely re-imagines Bouguereau’s painting Nymphs and Satyr into an anime animation. The artist keeps the original work’s composition and general subject matter, but adds his own unique spin to the original work. It looks as if the drawing is placed somewhere in the future or on a different planet where people can fly!
This reproduction preserves Bouguereau’s painting completely, but reapplies it into advertising. Creative use of an image is not only limited to reproducing a new work of art based on a previous work. Instead, advertisers can use a work of art like Bouguereau’s Nymphs and Satyr to add additional attributes to their product. Hoffman Cigars sought to attract potential customers’ attention by adding what they saw as a provocative image to their cigar packaging. This use of the image reinserts Bouguereau’s painting into the popular vocabulary in a new and reworked way.
Tampax’s creative ad for their product is inspired by the classic example of Jean-Leon Gerome’s The Snake Charmer. We can see how Gerome inspired the creation of this advertisement by looking at its subject matter, context, and painting style. In both we are given a snake charmer who is manipulating their own respective “snakes.” Tampax replaces the snake from the original painting to one of their own products. The similarities continue as each work is situated in similar location, indicated by the subject sitting on the floor and the ornamentation on the walls. Though this ad is not a direct appropriation of the previous work , we can see how a painting made a hundred years ago can influence culture today.
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), Dancers in the Classroom, c. 1880 © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, 1955.562
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1879-81 © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, 1955.45
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French), Nymphs and Satyr, 1873 © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, 1955.658
Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904), The Snake Charmer, c. 1879. Oil on canvas, 82.2 x 121 cm. © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, 1955.51