Inspiration | Imitation Project Statement
In Inspiration | Imitation I considered the work of other artists and how they influenced my own practice.
As the project was underway the media frenzy around the Richard Prince copyright lawsuit burst into full gear. It caused me to reflect on the new set of standards brought about in large part by the Internet era, where content once in the public domain is deemed to be precisely that -- in the public domain, to be used, changed, copied, and elaborated on in an ethically uncompromised way. Instead of embracing that widespread trend in contemporary art, I wanted to revert back to the skill of the craft so aptly demonstrated by artists I respected.
I set out to recreate photographs by artists I admired -- Richard Avedon, Bill Henson, Irwin Olaf -- and to use them as a point of departure for my own work. It became something of a thematic and stylistic meditation on some of the pictures I wished I had created first. The project raised questions for me about how art cuts into the value-laden givens of authorship and authenticity, and how the art world uses those to preserve the stature, and consequent commercial value, of the artist as hero.
The gallery that follows starts with my work inspired by Bill Henson, including the Performed in Kansas series, which is my response to Henson’s Paris Opera project. Following that series is my Young Boys in Old Women’s Hats series, triggered by my admiration for artist Irwin Olaf.