Sunday, December 11, 2011

Artistic Force

The previous post demonstrated a pure homage.

This post demonstrates a pure rip-off.

The top image is by Jack Greiner from 1939, seven years after the elegant pastel by Rolf Armstrong, shown at the bottom. Greiner's image was actually also used on an earlier cover of Paris Gayety, still two years after Armstrong's.

Armstrong was an original artistic force.

Jack Greiner — Parisienne Nights — 1939

Rolf Armstrong — College Humor — May 1932


Daniel [] said...

About homage, I've had interesting discussions of late with a couple of artists, Bernard Perroud, a sculptor, and my mother, a watercolorist. The question is of when to acknowledge the reference explicitly.

Although perhaps I misunderstand him, Bernard seems to believe that there must almost always be an explicit acknowledgment. My mother seems to believe that there must be an explicit reference whenever some part of the audience might be unaware of the reference.

Meanwhile, I tend to think that there is a great deal of pleasure not only in recognizing a reference, but in discovering it after the viewing. Nor do I see this as a pleasure in having detected some sort of artistic crime, but in a friendly game played between the artist and the viewer.

But I certainly don't want to provide cover for illustrators who are simply expropriating the work of other men and women. Unfortunately, I offer nothing better than a Potter Stewart standard for distinguishing homage from rip-off.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Daniel, thanks for delving into that a bit. It's a minefield of ethics, as artists are most always inspired by other artists at some point in their careers. And early on in their careers they may be more inspired than they should, while they're still trying to develop their own style.

In the 1920s and 1930s, new magazines were around for a month and then seemingly gone forever. Deadlines were fast and furious with very little pay. So, in desperation, borrowing a pose, however inspired, didn't seem as big a crime then as now when every google user could be an image detective, and yell foul.

I like your point of audience pleasure, as when an homage of that sort is done properly, there is usually a decided feeling of cleverness and wit involved.