Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Play it again Sam

from w
Sometimes artists copy, nick, steal,appropriate, forge, mimic, pay homage to, make a caricature of, other artists' works. But now we have a winner of the Wynne that is a definite copy - well 95% of it. As often the case there are squabbles about art prizes but this one takes the cake when you compare the winner with a very old Dutch painting. It should not have won the prize mainly because it is not 'an Australian landscape' though I guess the artist rationalizes that the European influence on Australia tidies up the landscape and idealizes it. It's like one of those early paintings by the new settlers where they couldn't 'see' that the Australian light is different.

Anyway here's what the papers have said (and there's much more of course!)

Nothing Australian about this cut-and-paste copy
• Bill Leak From: The Australian April 15, 2010 12:00AM

IN music, what used to be called plagiarism is now known as sampling. Everyone does it and nobody cares. Sampling, or reinterpreting, the works of other artists has been common practice in the visual arts right down the ages and nobody cares about that either. So why the fuss when an artist samples a picture painted by a 17th century Dutch master, passes it off as his own work and trousers a prize worth $25,000 for his pains?

The answer lies in the official terms and conditions of entry for the prize in question which, in this case, is the Wynne Prize for landscape painting or figurative sculpture They state, rather quaintly but unequivocally, that the prize will be awarded annually for "the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours". When it comes to the recent travesty involving the awarding of the Wynne Prize, the relevant part of this particular requirement is that the painting must be "of Australian scenery".

It proves beyond doubt that the cut-and-paste job done by this year's winner, Sam Leach, is a tawdry case of someone managing to slip one past the judges while being fully aware that his work was in direct contravention of the rules. If Leach had included Homage to Adam Pynacker in the long-winded title he bestowed on his painting (Proposal for landscaped cosmos) he might have earned himself some points…..etc

Also from The Australian newspaper

FELLOW Wynne finalists have turned on winning painter Sam Leach, demanding Art Galley of NSW trustees adhere to the $25,000 prize's rules that it be awarded to an Australian landscape. Gallery director Edmund Capon yesterday also backtracked from his original dismissal of concerns about the Melbourne artist passing off an appropriation of a 17th century Dutch painting of an Italian landscape as a futuristic Australian landscape. Mr Capon yesterday listed the topic for discussion at the gallery's next board meeting after Sydney gallery owner Martin Browne sent letters to the AGNSW's 11 trustees calling for Leach's copycat landscape to be disqualified from the prize because it is not an Australian landscape.

Leach said his Proposal for a landscaped cosmos depicted an idealised world but the painting he now acknowledges he referenced, Adam Pynacker's 1660 Boatmen moored on the shore of an Italian lake, clearly depicts an Italian landing… Leach said he had seen Pynacker's original painting in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, but when painting landscaped cosmos, he worked from a copy of Boatmen moored published on the museum's website. He didn't trace the outline but worked from eye… (So, what difference does that make – it is still a 90% copy!)
Of course I pinch pics off the internet, play around with photos at times that are not my own, but I do try to acknowledge this fact. Sam Leach didn't even move the shapes, colours, textures along at all and I just don't see the point he's making except that he is perhaps trying to take the Mickey...
and from the Age
Sydney Morning Herald art critic, John McDonald, said Leech's painting was 'basically a copy' of Pynacker's canvas with minor changes - most noticeably the removal of the boat and figures - and that there was unwritten assumption in the prize that it was for an original, Australian landscape. But Leach was a serious artist who liked to play visual games and use past images, he said. 'I don't think Sam is really the villain here. I think it's the judges who are culpable for making a rather silly decision … It is an embarrassment for the art gallery. It shows up how little judgment they showed.'
Click on picture to see enlarged.

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