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Evelyne Schoenmann

Qotw: Can You Do Whatever You Want To A Bought Piece Of Art?

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Good day to you my friends. This weeks question is one that is bothering me already for years.

 

You all heard about (or saw) that famous Chinese artist demolishing an ancient vase in front of a camera, "just because he can". He is rich and can buy rare antiques. He also is famous for painting such ancient vases with house paint. Even if he want to make a point (what point?) or provoke, may he do that?

 

If you buy a piece of art, may you do everything you want to it, saying "I bought it, now it's mine"?

 

I wonder.....

 

.... what your oppinion is in this matter.

 

Have a great week!

 

Evelyne

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Guest JBaymore

I think we need our member "Lawpots" to chime in here. :)

 

best,

 

......................john

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I view this as an odd societal conundrum...the distinction between what is legal and what is right seems to have removed humanity from the equation and replaced it with narcissism.

 

IMHO,

Paul 

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Sure. Why not? There is only a perceived value. It's stuff big deal. My life is unaffected by the event

 

Suppose someone has one of my pots and decal or china paints it and signs it and sells it. Good for them. Or uses one of those early works of mine that weighs a ton as a club and murders someone with. Oh well. Out of my control.

 

I'm not for this type of attention but hey im not flithy rich either. But if I was my principles would keep me in check.

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Years ago, on a trip to Venice, I was dismayed by the graffiti on all of the beautiful sites ... Those gorgeous bridges were covered with spray painted words ... World heritage level buildings were covered with spray painted signs and slogans ...

Then, ( not to be political ) the whoever?? bombs ancient sites in the East to rubble.

Then some wannabe smashes a vase simply to get publicity ... Oh yeh, Yoko did it too.

So you learn to let it go.

It diminishes us as a culture, but how can you care about everything beautiful without appreciating its fragility.

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I have a strong sense of respect to what came before both for the beauty and the history. But I don't feel the need to deface a tree, a building, a fence in any way whether or not it has beauty or historical significance. I have other, constructive, ways to express myself.

 

If I purchased a piece of art or craftsmanship my instinct would be to protect, not destroy, even if the money I had spent meant nothing to me. I don't think that having a legal right to do something means that it is right

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Evelyne: you just have to ask those questions that stir up my soul and passions.  Let me see if I can get through this without going on a rant: have my doubts.

 

From the legal view: you bought it, it is yours to do with what you want.

From the artistic, historic, and moral view: no you do not have that right.

 

I have purchased some art over the years; mostly paintings, some glass art, and some pottery. I bought them because they "spoke" to me, evoked emotions,reminded me of a period in my life, or a period in world history. I bought some to remind me of my history; therefore altering them would likewise alter my own history. I not only connected to the art, but the artist who created it. I do not have the right to alter the expressions they created: nor do I have the desire to. My rights as the owner include to immerse myself emotionally into anothers' work. I have the right to cherish it, admire it, and preserve it for those who come after me that share my attachment to it.

Then there is the historical aspect to artwork/s. History is not only tracked my documents, artifacts, and events: but the art from each period of our existence. We might call them Museums of Art: but in reality they are history museums. Every culture, every generation, and every historic period is memorialized and documented in the art left behind. Matthew Brady recorded the annuals of the Civil War on a relatively new artistic medium: photography. The 14th and 15th centuries of China are preserved on porcelains pieces from the Sung and Ming Dynasties. The Faberge Eggs of Russia document the period when Czars ruled. The Dark Ages are encapsulated in the marble, stone, and other pieces they left behind. Nobody has the right to destroy history by painting over antiquities: what an idiot!!!! If that same billionaire would buy up historical pieces and build a museum to house them: he would be remembered for centuries. Now he has gotten his five minutes of fame and will be soon forgotten.

Sadly we have become a society of instant gratification. Instant credit, instant downloads, and instant potatoes have created the mentality that everything in life can be obtained by a push of a button: which in turn diminishes the appreciation and awareness of history. We are just one more generation in a long line that has come before, and those that will come after. We know about Middle Eastern culture because some one was wise enough, had enough foresight to leave behind cuniform tablets ( made from clay ;) ) as a record. Potters know about history because others have left us pieces to admire from thousands of years ago. Which brings me to my own question of the day: What record will this generation leave behind to teach future ones of our period in history?

>> Those pots and pieces you are making right now will be around for thousand or more years if some idiot does not coat them with house paint.

Nerd

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I am happy to say: this is the first time I heard the story about the man destroying a bit of beauty and history.

 

Pottery has a weird place between function craft and art. My grandmother has the right not to use the mugs I send her and to not let them be broken. But to me, the purpose and value is lost by not being used. I never really worried about where things go or how they get used. I enjoy making.

 

It does bring a tinge of sadness to see purposeful disregard for beauty.

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Guest JBaymore

I am happy to say: this is the first time I heard the story about the man destroying a bit of beauty and history.

 

 

 

Ai Wei Wei...... People's Republic of China.  Look him up.  Political Dissident.

 

best,

 

...............john

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Very disappointed to learn that it was Ai Wei Wei.  :angry: If one is into political performance and other forms of point-making, I think one should use one's own stuff. As Nancy notes--stewardship vs. ownership,and Paul notes, re: narcissism.

 

So, no...not without permission. And it is tempting at times to just do it anyway...I have a painting someone did that I just itch to "work with", but I must refrain, because I can't get in touch with the artist.  If I want to alter a piece of art, to me that becomes a collaboration and requires the consent of the "other" artist.

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I am happy to say: this is the first time I heard the story about the man destroying a bit of beauty and history.

 

 

 

Ai Wei Wei...... People's Republic of China.  Look him up.  Political Dissident.

 

best,

 

...............john

 

 

Do I really want to know? After all I partly live by the Spanish Pipedream...

 

"Blow up your TV throw away your paper

Go to the country, build you a home

Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches

Try an find Jesus on your own"

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I was aware that this was a difficult QOTW and I thank every one of you who answered my question. I explicitly didn't name "the man who destroyed a bit of beauty and history". But yes, I meant Ai Wei Wei (thanks John). I was so upset when I heard of his "art performance". My opinion is that when we have the money to buy ancient art, we have to preserve the piece we buy.

 

Nerd: thank you for your long reply and your thoughts. I am with you completely. You express exactly what I and a lot of artists feel.

 

It makes me so sad to see that the distruction of ancient buildings and art is increasing. Two days ago I have been at the Museum of Antiquities in our town to see the exhibition about the sunken ship on Antikythera. In the exhibition I saw 3 statues with a plaque saying: illegally imported. Should I be shocked about my own State, or should I say "thank you for preserving the statues before others destroy them"? So many questions....

 

Evelyne

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Well my dentist has purchased a number of my animal sculptures. One is a stack of grinning hippos with big teeth. Its in his office and has had "braces" added to it. Its a silly sculpture and he had it as an example to show kids how cute these colored braces could be.   Did not ask my permission. I don't much care on this piece but some I might.   rakuku

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This is a very provocative question and one that demands dynamic conversation. On one hand, it can be said that the owner of an object has the right to do anything they want with it unless it came with an agreement otherwise. On the other hand, out of respect and honor, the object should alway retain it's original form. A personal example, albeit a minor one, is often a client or collector will ask me if it's ok to put flowers in my vessel or to plant in a bowl. My answer, after I explain any technical issues such as durability and the piece being waterproof or not, is; "You may do whatever you like. Flowers are fine. Planting is fine. Make the piece part of your life." If they asked me if it would be ok to use my piece for target practice, I would say "sure, but that's a very expensive target." The bottom line for me and my work is that once the piece is in the possession of someone else, it is complete. I have expressed myself and made my statement. It is now out of my hands.

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After reading and rereading this thread: I am going to attempt to make some distinctions. I think Nancy summed up the current question very well. I will admit that I have a personal issue with the generalized description of all clay forms being termed "pottery." I understand it is used to describe one segment or medium among many in the world of art. Much like a paint by number portrait is still considered a painting: although it falls way short of a Rembrandt. So the basic functional ware such as a coffee mug is going to be less esteemed than a Ming Vase although many clay artist throw them with the same amount of love and care. However, a Ming vase is still made of porcelain clay: so why is it esteemed so highly? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question meant to make a point.

Julie Brookes has a crystalline glazed lotus vase that has been reduction fired to produce a pure red work of art. It currently sits in a museum in Beijing, China. A friend of mine has reduction red vases, and silver reduced crystalline pieces sitting in high end retail shops in Orange County, CA. Who made the distinction between these two throwers, that one is museum quality and the others are not? When does clay "pottery" transcend this generalized label and enter into the realm of art? Why are there dedicated museums to the clay arts in Europe, and those same quality pieces are sold in art fairs in America? Why is there no standards or definitions that declare a piece a work of art, and not just a work of pottery? I guess the bigger question is: what has happened in our culture that the appreciation for art has been so diminished?

Nerd

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Computer and software, or a CD or vinyl come with a licence that allows you to play but not copy.

 

Perhaps art should/could come with the same rules.

 

From a personal point, I think if you buy a piece of art from the originator you can do what you like with it.  If it is historic and has been passed down through generations then perhaps you have a duty to preserve it for future generations to enjoy/study.

 

Anything in the public space - statues/memorials etc - should remain so and should not be owned by individuals or corporations but by either the originating nation or one who will act as a custodian until such time as it is safe/appropriate for that item to return home.

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Evelyne: you just have to ask those questions that stir up my soul and passions.  Let me see if I can get through this without going on a rant: have my doubts.

 

From the legal view: you bought it, it is yours to do with what you want.

From the artistic, historic, and moral view: no you do not have that right.

 

I have purchased some art over the years; mostly paintings, some glass art, and some pottery. I bought them because they "spoke" to me, evoked emotions,reminded me of a period in my life, or a period in world history. I bought some to remind me of my history; therefore altering them would likewise alter my own history. I not only connected to the art, but the artist who created it. I do not have the right to alter the expressions they created: nor do I have the desire to. My rights as the owner include to immerse myself emotionally into anothers' work. I have the right to cherish it, admire it, and preserve it for those who come after me that share my attachment to it.

Then there is the historical aspect to artwork/s. History is not only tracked my documents, artifacts, and events: but the art from each period of our existence. We might call them Museums of Art: but in reality they are history museums. Every culture, every generation, and every historic period is memorialized and documented in the art left behind. Matthew Brady recorded the annuals of the Civil War on a relatively new artistic medium: photography. The 14th and 15th centuries of China are preserved on porcelains pieces from the Sung and Ming Dynasties. The Faberge Eggs of Russia document the period when Czars ruled. The Dark Ages are encapsulated in the marble, stone, and other pieces they left behind. Nobody has the right to destroy history by painting over antiquities: what an idiot!!!! If that same billionaire would buy up historical pieces and build a museum to house them: he would be remembered for centuries. Now he has gotten his five minutes of fame and will be soon forgotten.

Sadly we have become a society of instant gratification. Instant credit, instant downloads, and instant potatoes have created the mentality that everything in life can be obtained by a push of a button: which in turn diminishes the appreciation and awareness of history. We are just one more generation in a long line that has come before, and those that will come after. We know about Middle Eastern culture because some one was wise enough, had enough foresight to leave behind cuniform tablets ( made from clay ;) ) as a record. Potters know about history because others have left us pieces to admire from thousands of years ago. Which brings me to my own question of the day: What record will this generation leave behind to teach future ones of our period in history?

>> Those pots and pieces you are making right now will be around for thousand or more years if some idiot does not coat them with house paint.

Nerd

Not a rant. Just the truth. Thanks.

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This is clearly a philosophical question, and it requires a philosophical answer. Before we explore the value being destroyed we may wish to explore just where the value comes from to begin with. 

 

The primary question would be: What is the purpose of the art? I tend to think of art as expression of humanity in some form, even if it is just an expression of our perception of nature. That said, the purpose of art is to connect us to some portion of our basic humanity. What we create tells us something about ourselves, and sometimes that message is meant for future generations. Honestly, in the end, I think the purpose of art is to enhance our lives in an esoteric way, it instructs us.

 

When art is destroyed as a means of effecting political change or raising awareness, the purpose of the art is the same as it was when it was created. It is used in an attempt to instruct, and also as a means to enhance our lives. We may agree or disagree with the message of the originator of the artwork, and we may just as easily agree or disagree with the message of the destroyer. Both acts however are meant to instruct. The act of destruction is no different than the act of creation, it is simply closing the loop.

 

The French have an old saying that roughly translates to :  "It is the fate of all glass to be broken". We all live and die, and this too is the fate of all art. It has also been said that a death without purpose is a wasted death. Perhaps the same is true for art. If the destruction of an artwork can save a single life, some would argue that it would be worth it.

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Feel free to do what you like with anything you buy,  it's yours after all - no-one else's.

 

If I liked something enough to buy it with my own hard-earned cash, I'd be buying it cos I like it as it is.

 

If I'd felt the need to alter it I would have bought something else instead.

 

.......but I'm a simple sort of person - (simple as in uncomplicated). -_-

 

 

 

 

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