by Jennifer Kai Nilles firstname.lastname@example.org
REPRINTED FROM painterskeys.com 2005-06:
Cheap art from Chinese factories are hanging on walls seemingly everywhere you look. You see them in doctor’s waiting rooms, hotel lobbies, office buildings, and living rooms. Usually very colorful and covered with thick blobs of paint, these oil paintings are mass-produced on assembly lines in China and sold for very cheap prices usually in front of grocery and discount department stores. And western consumers are eating them up, supporting the growth of an industrial phenomenon. Much of the art coming out of China has been copied from works of the “Old Master’s” like Vermeer and Van Gogh, and some from contemporary art pieces. People buy everything else made in China from scrub brushes to iPod’s to clothing. The problem is, we are sacrificing quality. Is the quality of real art going to decline to match the competition? Just as fast food is bad for our physical health, fast art is bad for societal health. American society no longer appreciates creativity and individual expression. But has been engulfed by consumerism and bargain shopping.
Americans are more concerned about saving a buck than holding onto their integrity. Always looking for ways to save money has encouraged the practice of sweatshop production. It seems that art is no longer sacred, but has been subverted to the level of bargain basement prices, becoming market friendly. Is the constant lust for a bargain actually hurting anyone? The Chinese artist living in cramped conditions getting paid by piece is hurt (Paetsch 3). Emerging American artists are hurt by the cheap prices of Chinese art: lowering the prices they can expect to charge for paintings. Average people do not want to spend $500 or more for a 16″ x 20″ painting. It seems that common art buyers do not know the difference between original art and copies, or do not care. Last but not least, pirates stealing images from the web to reproduce and sell at very low prices have hurt many other artists (Genn 8).
Seventeen years ago in 1989, Dafen village outside of Shenzhen became China’s painting capital when pioneer Huang Jiang settled there. He came to Dafen looking for low-wage workers and cheap rent (Paetsch 1). Low overhead costs afforded him the opportunity to reproduce oil paintings very quickly and inexpensively. There was virtually no competition in the beginning of Jiang’s enterprise. For this reason, it didn’t take long before Jiang became rich, earning around $250,000 per year with Walmart being one of his biggest customers (Paetsch 1).
These fakes are so popular that many of Jiang’s original apprentices went on to open up their own studios and factories. “Huang’s idea turned out to be as easy to copy as an oil painting. â€˜During the first few years, I was the only one in the business,’ he complains. â€˜Everything was easier then, but the competition has gotten tough now’” The competition essentially reduced his income to only five figures (Paetsch 1). According to People’s Daily Online, Huang Jiang began his business in 1989 with more than 20 painters and apprentices. Not long after, increasing profits and fame attracted up to 10,000 artists in studios and even outside the city of Dafen (1). The hand painted reproduction business is merely a step up from printed reproductions. Hopefully, most people realize this when they are purchasing them. It is important to note that one of these paintings will probably never be worth anymore than the original price paid, and maybe less. Quality is a low priority for the copyists; they are more interested in quantity and making money. And, boy, are they ever! In September 2006, Michael Zhao, for Forbes reported the US market contributed “$50 million the year before, up from $22 million in 2001″ (1).
Eventually, Jiang’s success caught on, and now the approximate number of studios/factories in Dafen is around 700, employing at least 30,000 painters (Zhao 1). Well-paid workers can earn about $100-$150 per week (Zhao 1). But there are some smaller studios that pay their artists only around 38 cents per painting. These painters end up having to work 12 hours a day painting 20-30 copies a day just to earn enough to send a little money home (Paetsch 3). These wages are shameful. According to Chapter lV of the Labour Law of the People’s Republic of China, there are regulations pertaining to how long a person can work in one day but they are disregarded when they are working by piece (Ministry of Commerce).
Shouldn’t Americans turn their backs on this sweatshop art industry? However, to be properly moral, Americans would need to stop buying almost everything. This probably won’t happen, since it seems that just all manner of cheap household items for sale come out of China. Americans are very materialistic and consumerism is a wildfire causing them to always have to have new things to impress others. However Americans can stop supporting industries and corporations that use sweatshop-manufacturing methods. How do we know what was produced in a sweatshop and what was not? Well, the Internet is a great source to use. There are many news articles online exposing corporations using sweatshops. All you really need to do is type “Sweatshop” into Google, and you will be busy reading for days.
According to Spiegal Online, there are some artists producing original art but it only constitutes about ten percent of the paintings produced in Dafen. These artists are technically adept but their own paintings lack originality (Paetch 2). The lack of originality and the possibility that Chinese copyists might be running out of popular “Old Master” works to copy could be the reason some have moved into the realm of piracy; stealing the images of art created by living artists. In China, the issue of Intellectual Property and Copyright are fairly new concepts. China only just signed onto The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works October 15th, 1992 (Genn 2). Wikipedia states the following about The Berne Convention:
The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, is an international agreement about copyright, which was first adopted in Berne, Switzerland in 1886… Prior to the adoption of the Berne Convention, national copyright laws would usually only apply for works created within each country.
The importance of The Berne Convention is monumental. This means that the Chinese copy painters cannot just download art by living artists and make reproductions without written permission. However, that is exactly what they are doing. You see it is ok to copy the “Old Master” paintings because those artists are long dead and their works are in the public domain. But, it is illegal to make copies and sell them without the original living artist’s permission. The fact that some of the Copyists are now stealing art from living artists is a slap in the face of creativity and ingenuity. Instead of stealing, perhaps they could have contacted the artists whose work they admired and come up with a profitable offer to benefit both.
Well known artists have begun to discover reproductions of their works being offered for sale online. They are not just sitting idly by and letting it happen. For Instance, Robert Genn, fine artist and author of The Robert Genn, Twice Weekly Letter, wrote an alert letter to his readers titled: “International Theft”. He did this to inform artists who may have been unknowingly victimized. This “International Theft” was perpetuated by the owners of a large Chinese website called Arch-world. Arch-world, containing the works of approximately 2800 artists living and dead, was pulling images of paintings from dealer and public gallery websites, printing ink jet reproductions and selling them for very cheap prices (Genn 1). In a list of updates later published on the Painter’s Keys website, Genn tells of other websites that were discovered, selling hand painted copies of art by living artists. Here, Genn gives a chronological accounting of how the Painter’s Keys team, and around 1100 angry artists wrote emails to the operators of the websites, and to key people in governmental positions demanding their paintings be removed. Working together, they very successfully caused Arch-World to not only remove the pirated art images but Arch-World actually shut down their site (1). One site Genn mentioned, which I searched extensively, was europic-art.com. From what I could gather there were a lot of contemporary artist pieces still listed on their site. Some of the artists were not named, but it was obvious that the works are contemporary paintings. Europic, had these contemporary paintings “hiding” among the “Old-Master” works. I am sure that there are many Chinese art sites out there “pirating” art images from the web unnoticed. The web is a vast universe of uncharted territory. How can we navigate all of its ever-changing landscape? It is easy for the pirates to steal the art because it is so hard to discover. Arch-World was probably operating for years under the radar before they were discovered.
Therefore, it is so important to know where and who you are buying art from. To establish provenance, meet the artist or the gallery owner. People who crave art and want real paintings to hang on their walls, but have a small budget, can go to a local artist’s co-operative and purchase great original art. Usually, at these little art galleries run by artists you can meet the person who made the art. And, I’ll guarantee the artists you find in co-op galleries don’t work in a sweatshop. Real artists were born to paint. They paint out of passion; painstakingly placing each stroke and loving every minute of it.
The mass-produced art from china cannot be considered real art. Robert Genn did not think that he was going to be injured by the Chinese reproduction business much. He states, “my market buyers buy name, not work. It’s the principle of the thing.” However, Genn did say that, “It might have an effect on very low priced painters who see themselves competing with the Chinese stuff at Walmart, supermarket parking lots, or wherever” (Email interview with Robert Genn). Some galleries aren’t bothered by the cheap Chinese art, “We don’t touch it” sniffs Vicki Arnot, vice president of the Herbert Arnot gallery in New York. “We associate it with knockoff Gucci bags sold in China town” (Zhao 1). However, one gallery owner in Norcross, GA, says his business has dropped 30% since 2001 (Zhao 1).
Basically, you get what you pay for. Do you really want to decorate your home like the waiting room of a doctor’s office, or hotel lobby? Do you want to make Chinese sweatshop owners rich or do you want to support your local artist. Do you want to give your money to thieves stealing art from well-known contemporary artists? If you don’t want to do this then think about what you are buying before you buy it. Remember, there are a lot of wonderful artists creating great original art waiting to be discovered. So, the next time you are reading the local paper and see a nice little juried show reception announcement, why don’t you let your curiosity get the best of you and go check it out.
“As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.” (Dick Cavett). The creators of fine art need your patronage.
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Works Cited List:
Cavett, Dick. “Acceptance, Art Quotations.” Painters Keys..
November 9, 2006.
Europic-art.com. Catalog. November 8, 2006.
Path; Catalog, figures
Genn, Robert. “International Theft.” Painterâ€™s Keys.
December 2, 2005. November 4, 2006
Genn, Robert. “International Theft- Arch-world Updates.” Painterâ€™s Keys.
December 2005-March 2006. November 4, 2006
Genn, Robert. Re: “Arch-world update 121205.” Email to the author.
November 8, 2006
“Labour Law of the People’s Republic of China.” Ministry of Commerce of the People’s
Republic of China. China International Electronic Commerce Center
Copyright Â© 2001-2005 . November 12, 2006
Paetsch, Martin. “Chinaâ€™s Art Factories, Van Gogh From the Sweatshop.” Spiegel
Online. August 23, 2006. October 27, 2006
“Dafen Village: Chinaâ€™s No. 1 oil painting workshop.” Peopleâ€™s Daily Online.
January 27, 2005. November 5, 2006
Zhao, Michael. “Van Gogh, Outsourced.” Forbes 178.5.
Sept. 18, 2006. November 8, 2006. InfoTrac OneFile. Thompson Gale. Grossmont Cuyamaca Community.
COMMENTS IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:
Comments added Dec 27, 2006 | 7:00 PM, PST
More Chinese sites, some cooperation
Sherrie Engler, email@example.com of the Equine Arts Protection League is busy notifying the Equine Arts community of infringements on another website that has just shown up:
art&craft Europic - China Oil Painting Reproduction[ED.NOTE: This site is still firmly in business... many of their copies are definitely modern in style and a few are even identified by artist who was copied. A few living artists whose copied work I see here include Nancy Glazier, David Hockney, Krystii Melaine, John Banovich, John Seerey-Lester, Matthew Hillier-http://www.matthewhillierart.com/ , Richard Iams-http://www.richardiams.com/ .
I can't imagine that europic-art has reproduction rights from these artists; I WILL FIND OUT. The site's Artists Index does NOT list the names of these artists.]
There are various genres that are being copied– as well as horses on this site.
Also David Cole of the UK, email reported “A recent visitor to my website alerted me to the fact that nine of my images had been stolen by these people â€“ Dancolour. The pictures stolen are 134, 80, 77, 72, 62, 60, 54, 50 and 8. In each case they have removed the logo/copyright symbol from my picture. In most cases they have produced slightly manipulated versions of my images.” We wrote back to David:
“You need to write to them directly, ask them to remove the images, copy to us (seems to help) and let us know what happens. Copy to embassies as well. We looked at your “reclining girl with red background,” and their copy. We’d like to use both examples in a future letter or click with your permission. In this case they are making hand made clones and they can copy anything they can look at.”
David reported back to us the next day:
“They’re off! Thanks for your help. I still am not sure which initiative achieved the result: A phone call from the British Consulate in Guang Dong or one or more of the three emails I sent earlier this evening. It would be helpful to know. I think the emails you forwarded (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) did the trick better than email@example.com where emails to it were returned to me undelivered. As you suggest, it may all be temporary. We’ll see.”
added March 9, 2006 | 10:05 PM, PST
Arch-World a wounded duck
Monitoring the art-world and the arch-world sites as we do, we note intermittent activity. Andrew has confirmed that at one point the site went down completelyâ€”only to resurrect itself after a while. My feeling is that they are tired and punchy from the bombardment. Arch-world is now full of holes. It is a wounded duck, not yet a dead one. It is letters like this one from Barbara McGivern that seem to be doing the job:
“Attention Arch-World: I am instructing your company to stop using images of my art immediately. My images are protected by copyright law, and may not be displayed now or in the future on your or any website not approved by myself. Please remit $1,200.00 for each print that has been sold by your firm. I expect to hear from you soon with a cheque following, and an assurance that my paintings have been removed permanently from your website. I would like you to confirm that I have been removed by your company or any future companies that you are intending to set up…as you know we are protected by international copyright laws which China signed on to. You should have some respect for artists who have enough trouble selling there work that we do not have to be copied…if you like our art so much why have you not been in touch with us so we could do this legitimately.”
added Feb 20, 2006 | 7:15 PM, PST
Squeaking wheel gets the grease
At the present time it seems that all artists who have written and asked to be removed from the Arch-World site are staying removed. While we’ve sent emails and asked if they might supply us with their current plans, there has been no correspondence from them for the last two weeks. On the other front (Dancolour and Doupine) there have been several watercolour painters who have recently reported success in removal. We’ve written to all the Chinese pirate sites and thanked them for their cooperation in this removal. As in most areas of human conflict and misunderstanding, appeals to friendship and kindness often carry the day. We can only hope that this international goodwill continues to prevail.
For those artists who are cruising these sites and happen to notice living artists, perhaps friends, who may not be aware they are represented, they should be notified. It’s still a source of amazement to many of our friends that their work was on the Arch-World site for two years and nobody knew about it.
added Jan 16, 2006 | 8:00 PM, PST
Eternal vigilance pays off
As I write this the Arch-world website remains pleasantly crippled. The pay-off of all our effort is that further pirate sites have been discovered. They are two smaller operations run by another companyâ€”one for oils and one for watercolour. These are easier to directly check out and are at Doupine.com (pirated oil paintings) and Dancolour.com (pirated watercolours) Subscriber Jean Haines, email, reports that “the (watercolour) paintings were almost identical to mine. Amazingly well reproduced. Two of the paintings they copied had been sold which further complicated matters considering the owners had paid full price for a one off original. At my request they have now removed my paintings from the site.”
added Jan 9, 2006 | 9:00 PM, PST
It appears that for the time being we have put Arch-World behind us. Thanks to all who made it happen. For those who are concerned about artistic piracy and the lifting of Internet images for resale, we must now continue in a state of “eternal vigilance.” To this end Andrew is working on a search facility that will appear on this site. You will be able to enter your name and find out if you appear on ANY Asian site. We’ll let you know here when this project is completed. Thanks again.
added Jan 2, 2006 | 7:45 PM, PST
Currently there are no living artists on the Arch-world website. This has been the case now for four days. It seems our constant requests for removal have paid off. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this email bombardment. We have asked Arch-World to keep us informed of any other plans they may have, through the new Art-world and other sites they may have in mind, and to update us with sample contracts, percentages, types of replicas to be produced, etc. They have agreed to do this but as yet there is nothing specific from them.
In order to keep everybody on the up and up, Andrew has offered to build us a dedicated search engine by which individual artists will be able to punch in their names at any time in order to see if they appear on ANY Asian sites. When complete, this service will appear here.
added Dec 26, 2005 | 7:00 PM, PST
A world of artists against Arch-World
Something we didn’t realize was just how gigantic the Arch-World site is. Also, we didn’t realize the difficulty of getting both historical and recently deceased artists removed from the site. This letter from Belgian painter Lilian Valladares, firstname.lastname@example.org is typical:
“I went to look at the Chinese pages to see about this Mafia story. I contacted everyone I know in order to spread the news. The darkest cloud in this whole thing is that there are many works from artists already dead. Their families, if ever advised of the misappropriation, will never be able to fight against this gang. Dead artists are rising and falling off their tombs in disgust.”
Regarding the delivery of the diplomatic letter in Beijing, there has been no response as of yet from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce–or significant changes to the Arch-World website.
Please continue to alert others who are still represented on the Arch-World site. If your work is not yet removed, and you want it removed, continue writing them. It seems to take a bit of repetition and insistence. I get the feeling that it’s valuable to appeal to people’s sense of dignity and self respect.
On Wednesday the 21st we sent the following to Arch-World:
Thank you for your continued action to remove art from your site. We appreciate this. In your form letter you mention that you are starting up a new commercial site. Could you send us a copy of the contract that you will be offering to artists?
All the best and thanks for your time.
To which they replied on Thursday the 22nd:
Thank you! Our new commercial site The world of art is developing now. I should send you the contract when we finish the development work of “The world of art”.
Sincerely, Best wishes
added Dec 22, 2005 | 9:20 PM, PST
Arch-world site exposed further
Artists who make personal requests are still being removed in timely fashion from the Archâ€“World website. Shooting from the hip, we think about 50% of living American and Canadian artists have been successful in getting themselves removed. The percentage for living European, Latin American and Down Under artists is much smaller.
For those in Canada, I’m currently scheduled to be interviewed on CBC Radio One on a coast-to-coast hookup at unspecified times in all time zones on the afternoon of Wednesday December 21, 2005.
Also on the Canadian front, Robin Mader, of the Canadian Trade Commission for Visual Arts, has told us that these sorts of things are generally a “private matter” between individuals–and best handled that way. She has however made arrangements for a strong diplomatic letter to be passed between the Canadian Embassy in Beijing to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Trading and Law Department. This is to occur at noon Beijing time on December 20, 2005. We’ll keep you informed.
As concerned and affected artists, our most important job is to inform others who might not want to be “represented” by Arch-World. Please telephone or email people you know who may still be on the site. Protests to Chinese Embassies can’t hurt either. As I write this another email has just come in with a copy of a polite request made only a few hours ago that has resulted in the removal of several pages of a young lady’s paintings. Arch-World is a big site, and there are still lots of indignant artists to go. I’ve asked Andrew to email Michelangelo, Claude Monet and Francisco Zuccarelli, but these guys don’t seem to be checking their inboxes these days.
added Dec 19, 2005 | 9:35 PM, PST
More artwork removed
The good news is that individual artists continue to have their work taken off the Arch-World website. We get the feeling that the Chinese reluctantly comply after artists have written to them more than once. The form letter response from them is diminishing, although some artists are still getting it. What surprises us is that many artists on the list either don’t care or have not yet been informed. This is particularly true for Latin American and European artists. A great deal of work from a world of Public Galleries is still there as well.
This includes paintings from the Galeria Borhese, Rome; The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Alte Pinakothex, Munich, and many others. What to do about it? If you are cruising the list below and see the name of someone–or some institution–you feel should be alerted, please get in touch with them. Also if you notice any changes, or the return of work onto the Arch-World or other site, please let us. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of individual artists, we are making headway with Arch-World. In the meantime we are carefully archiving all of your letters in this matter.
If you’re interested in getting an overview of the current attacks on our global economy, you might pick up a copy of Illicit — How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy by Moises Naim
added Dec 15, 2005 | 8:15 PM, PST
Thanks to your continued efforts the Arch-World website is diminishing. Some artists are philosophic about it. For example Adan Lerma wrote: “Intellectual property theft is not new in the Chinese culture. The people there really do not have the same view of the value or rights of creative property, of any kind: images, music, inventions, discoveries. Neither major international corporations nor governments seem to have produced more than lip service and token actions.”
Nevertheless, most artists continue to be upset. For example Ardath Davis wrote to email@example.com
Subject: Using images of my paintings illegally
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am instructing your company to stop using images of my art immediately. My images are protected by copyright law, and may not be displayed now or in the future on your or any website not approved by myself. Please remit $115.00 for each print that has been sold by your firm. I expect to hear from you soon with a cheque following, and an assurance that my paintings have been removed permanently from your website.
This letter had the effect of getting her paintings removed from the Arch-World website. Whether there will be a cheque in the mail is another matter.
One by one, in this way, we seem to be appealing to their sense of decency. Perhaps they are just respecting our individual and heartfelt requests. It seems to us that about half of the artists who have written and asked for removal have been successful. It may have something to do with repetition. My work floated away after my third letter. When the work goes off the following appears in the upper left hand corner of your page: [CHINESE CHARACTERS]
This means “This page not available at the present time” In some cases your works are still posted but the shopping cart facility is removed. This might indicate that they are attempting to change from a selling site to an “educational” site as indicated in their letter below. If you happen to be cruising the list and you see the names of artists who you feel would not want to be “represented,” please contact them and copy them to this page. If anyone has any further information or notice of changes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it here.
added Dec 12, 2005 | 10:00 AM, PST
Removal requests answered
Some of the protesting artists had been answered with a form letter that appears below. One by one the artists who complained the most were removed from the site. This could be temporary. They appear to be developing another website as well. We must continue on an individual basis to shame these folks from the business of helping themselves to our work. Various levels of government from several countries have offered to add what pressure they can as well.
From: “The World of Architecture”
Dear Sir or Madam:
Upon receiving your e-mail, we immediately removed your name and works from our site, and honestly made an apology for our conduct.
Essentially, we would like to contact you to obtain your authorization directly, but it is a difficult job to find all artists worldwide. We indicated artists’ names of the artworks on the site, in order to protect your legal interest. Besides that, we made a statement on the site, and gave out our contact information, hoping the artist himself or the copyright holder of his artworks to contact us.
At present, the site is in trial operation, and not yet spread widely. The shopping cart and the whole buying process you saw is just for test of our B2C system, so far we have concluded any business. Certainly, we knew that China signed on Berne Convention in 1992, and that the Chinese government has the obligations to protect the interest of copyright holders of all signature countries. Therefore, we do not sell any reproduction of the copyrighted artworks. In fact, www.arch-world.cn is now a nonprofit website, providing some information and knowledge on architecture, interior design, furniture, building materials and artworks for people in China, so the site is free apart from those contents which are authorized to pay by copyright holders or holders of legal rights and interests. We sincerely hope you put your works on the site, and promise your works are just for browsing only, not for selling. We are very sorry for any harm incurred from our conduct to you once again.
Besides, we are developing another e-business site www.art-world.cn, aiming at building a bridge between artists worldwide and Chinese art consumers, and all artworks to be sold on the site will be original and authorized by their copyright holders. We sincerely look forward to having your response soon, and thank you very much for your support and cooperation.
Yunnan Longway Information Industry Co., Ltd.
It may be “a difficult job to find all artists worldwide” but we are now well able to find them. Andrew and I have personally written to ask that various friends who have been too timid to write, or deceased, be removed as well. There is of course the chance that they will shape up and offer a contract to artists, but in the meantime it’s my advice to clean them out of potential product, and let them start afresh. Please continue to check back here to see if your artwork reappears, and if it does, continue to ask for immediate removal. The address to write to is email@example.com and copy to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to back you up if need be.
added Dec 7, 2005 | 6:54 PM, PST
On December 5, 2005, Andrew watched as many of your images dropped from the pirate Arch-World site. In a while everything was gone and we seemed to have cause to celebrate. However, after twelve hours the website reappeared with replicas of your paintings for sale as before. At this time I’m asking all artists to continue to bombard these people by resending your previous requests, writing new protests and also continuing to alert trade commissioners, embassies, and other government people. Protest in the media may be valuable as well. We need to make sure this website is shut down and does not continue, like a bad dream, to regenerate itself.
added Dec 6, 2005 | 8:30 AM, PST
I’m happy to report that your paintings are now falling like flies from the pirate Arch-World website. The thanks go to all artists and others (we think about 1100) who have written to Arch-World to protest and demand the removal of their art. Thanks also to all the members of the various Governments who got involved. It blows my mind but I think we have shut them down. Even the dead artists are now off.
But let’s not get carried away here–another Chinese site with the same stuff could pop up at any time–so our continued vigilance will be needed. I strongly advise artists, curators and gallery owners to keep googling artists’ names to see if anything appears. And please keep us informed. In the meantime, please join Andrew and I online for celebration and Champagne.
added Dec 5, 2005 | 5:00 PM, PST
If you wish to submit additional information please contact us at: email@example.com
Web, Email and other links
Home Page [english]
Artists Directory Page [english]
firstname.lastname@example.org (Renjie Lee)
Arch-world phone number:
0 871 808 1666
Doupine phone number:
Dancoulour phone number:
Europic-art phone number:
We sent our removal request to all four Arch-world email addresses. If you check back to this page from time to time we’ll let you know if and when Robert’s work has been removed from the Arch-World website.
Important websites (see link at top or below for links):
The Chinese Embassy in the USA
The Chinese Embassy in the UK
The Chinese Embassy in Australia
The Chinese Embassy in Canada
Email Canadian Trade Commissioner (Visual Arts) Robin Mader
If you wish to submit additional information please contact us at: email@example.com
List of artists found on arch-world.cn
This is to invite artists and art lovers to discuss a question I have heard more than once, whether artworks created digitally are TRUE ART??? A related question concerns paintings derived from photographs and whether the artist is cheating (so to speak) when a photo can be copied electronically as part of an artwork.
This issue begs firstly for a definition of ART (defs. of fine art included as more specific than art):
art - noun Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - [first five definitions only]
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.
fine art - noun WordNet -
the products of human creativity; works of art collectively; an art exhibition; a fine collection of artÂ [syn: art]Â
fine art - noun Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) -
a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture
fine art (n.) American Heritage Dictionary -
1 Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility.
b Any of the art forms, such as sculpture, painting, or music, used to create such art. Often used in the plural.
2 Something requiring highly developed techniques and skills: the fine art of teaching.
fine art American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms -
Something requiring highly developed techniques and skills, as in He’s turned lying into a fine art, or The contractor excels in the fine art of demolition. This term alludes to the fine arts, such as music, painting, and sculpture, which require both skill and talent. It is now often used to describe anything that takes skill to do. [First half of 1800s]
One must consider if Art (especially when/if defined as beauty) depends on the eye of the beholder. And are the viewer’s personal tastes paramount; do YOU like a piece or not, does it move you, invoke emotion, bring you pleasure, stimulate thought and reflection, help you live or relive specific moments, inspire you, etc.?
Artists have always sought and used various and unique methods to express themselves. Different forms of art are recognized and accepted by some and not others, with the degree of said recognition variable at any given point in time… this includes styles of expression as well as the media employed.
Technology’s progress continues to change cultural expression. Ongoing revolutions in the graphic arts and photography as well as in computers and the digital fields redefine how communications are conveyed and what they mean.
If we accept that art is an individual’s personal expression of and reactions to the surrounding world, can we fairly put restrictions or qualifiers on that expression? I would argue that the tools do not define the end product; I would argue that the artist’s personal statement is just that, personal. I would argue that any original thing, that is unlike any other thing, is a creation born of imagination.
Is photography ART?? Because it may be precisely representational, ie. photo-realistic, does that make it non-Art? Most people would agree that innumerable photographs are true works of art, so where do we draw the line? Do they become Art only when the photographer gains a wide-enough reputation to be considered successful?
I feel that the reactions of the beholder- together with the passion felt, the originality of approach, and the satisfaction gained by the creator- are one set of standards by which to gauge the value of a work of art. My definition of art is very broad. We could discuss where to draw the line between crafts and art constructs. I would ask, why does there have to be a line at all?
A portrait artwork is particularly personal and specialized, being more personal to certain viewers (the subjects and the client) than it is even to the artist who creates it. If this portrait happens to be photo-realistic or expressionistic or abstract or somewhere in between, yet elicits emotional response from its viewer, is it successful in achieving some of its purposes?
Is it less than Art because pigment was not applied by hand, or because it has actual photographic characteristics, which might be termed a true likeness? If pigment IS applied by hand on top of the digital canvas, does that make it Art?
Or could one say that the life and expression of the originating photograph has been amplified and augmented, that distracting areas of the originating photo have been subdued or removed or transformed into complimentary elements? Has the essence of the subject has been portrayed?
Have areas of darks and lights and color been used to a purpose- ie. is there an effective composition- serving to attract, direct and focus the attention of the viewer? Is the creation more expressive than the originating photograph, or equally expressive in a different sort of way? Is it more interesting in some ways or more pleasing to view than a photograph? Does it speak more to the viewer?
Are the above results, when attained, so different from copying from life, or hand-painting from a photo, or using aids to hand-painting such as drawing out a grid (which artists have done over the ages), or using a projector to assist sketching and achieving likenesses?
Are these end results reached by use of a skilled hand guided by an artistic eye? Does it really matter what kinds of tools are used?
PLEASE add your comments!
Connie Moses, petArtist– self-built website: PortraitsWithHorses.com
(horse and pet portraits)
(which are pretty much not viable options with hand-applied paints/media)
layering - can paint or draw on any number of overlays which can be individually controlled as to opacity, content, visibility, and interactive effects with other layers (imagine translucent and opaque paints on several sheets of glass stacked on top of each other, each of which can be modified, rearranged or removed)
mixability - possible to mix various media effects (if desired) which would never be possible otherwise, such as watercolor and oils, pastels and ink, oil and colored pencil, etc.
time-based controls - such as area drying time (tell it when to dry, or NOT to dry), spread speed of bleeds, lapsed time between start and finish
easy instant viewability - at small sizes, highly enlarged sizes, and in black and white, which greatly assists composition planning
photographically-correct likenesses - are fairly easy to achieve, so more relative time can be devoted to exploring other aspects of the art, such as expression, composition, background, integration of the elements, etc.
erasability/changeability - like it sounds; can be total, partial, or merely subduing, textured, spray-erasures, knife scratches… you get the idea
rearrangeability - one can reposition elements, copy and repeat areas, pull in parts of other artworks (haven’t done it but sounds interesting…)
version-saving - can save as many progressive stages of the artwork as you like, which you can revisit as desired; this allows experimentation in multiple directions
“final” color adjustments, enhancements and variations - tones and color ranges can be modified experimentally even after the painting is “finished”
size variability - size can be determined and changed after the piece has been done
reproducibility - can be output in multiples, onto variable artists’ materials (textured or smooth watercolor papers, cloth canvas, rice paper… the range of possible materials is being expanded as more artists experiment)
recoverability - archived files can be used to regenerate lost or damaged artworks
durability - specially-formulated inks, materials, and giclee print finishing assure museum-quality results which are at least as long-lived as pigment on paper, and in some cases even better able to resist color fluctuation over time
ease of use - (my favorite!) no smelly pigments or solvents, no palette setup, no mess, no cleanup, and can leave and come back to at will, continuing right where you left off!
WITH ALL THE CREATIVE OPTIONS, it’s sometimes tough to know when to stop; it’s often hard to choose which variation I like the best. But don’t worry, I’ll take care of that for you!
Connie Moses, petArtist Portraits With Pets.com and PortraitsWithHorses.com