As we were shown art, literature, music and

As humans we watch, learn and adapt. Our every movement, our
skills and our words were shaped for us by family, a tutor, a friend, a lover
or a stranger. After we learn basic life skills, our personality is made by the
people surrounding us and the environment we live in. Through interaction, we
discover who we like and who we don’t like. We decide what we believe is right
and what’s wrong. We learn about our taste, our style and how we choose to see
the world. But also through self-discovery, we’re learn about success. We watch
people succeed and subconsciously mimic their actions and maybe, in the end we
also succeed. It’s because we had everything given to us, we were given life
and opportunity, we were shown art, literature, music and culture. We learnt
about religion and science through history and we were taught all the skills we
needed to survive with knowledge. Our brains are loaded with inspiration and
information which can naturally formulate into an idea, a book, a film, a
clothing line, a business or timeless artwork. We watched, we learned, and we
adapted. As explained by Barthes1,
“…the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the
body that writes.”

                Barthes
argues that, how can we ever prove what the author has written, is his own
voice? The author has studied literature, reading many books with different
styles, he’s studied philosophy into the character, he has personal experience
on the subject, he has universal wisdom and there are aspects of psychology
behind the book. Where does his voice exist? Is literature so neuter, that we
can no longer represent ourselves within the book, only remnants of things that
we’ve learned, read and admired? This leads onto the next question, is there authorship
within the arts? Can an artist truly say, that their work was not inspired by
another artist, author or architect? Artists strive for inspiration, artists
live off visualisation of beautiful ideas and new, controversial ways to
challenge themselves and their art. If an artist sees something they like, it
will power them through creation. For example, if an artist found unfathomable
inspiration from another artist’s work, past or present, it will be their foundation
to work on. I have categorized 3 groups of which will explain the inspirational
process. Many artists will create their own adaptation of the new-found
inspiration, maybe using only the colour scheme as a point of practise or the
composition. Other artists may make a complete homage to the original
inspiration, purposefully comparing the two works. Another category of artist,
may subconsciously formulate the work in absolute similarity of the original
source. The three categories of artists whom all of which sought inspiration from
another’s work, all created artwork stamped with their name. But do they hold
authorship? Isn’t it obvious the ‘voice’ of another artists work is apparent
through their own. Despite the work being created by their hands and personal
knowledge and training. Is the ‘voice’ or ‘muse’ the prime factor into what
gives authorship to the artist?

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Fig 1. The Beheading of St John the
Baptist, Caravaggio, 16042

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2. Halloween Horror, Living in Hell and Other
Stories, Tom Hunter, 20033

 

 

                When we
compare Fig 1. by Caravaggio and Fig
2. by Hunter, you can clearly see the untimely resemblance between the oil
painting and photograph. From the composition, to architecture and even the
lighting, Tom Hunter very much had Caravaggio in mind at the time. Hunter4
describes, “…Caravaggio set the stage for what every contemporary artist seems
to be striving for – to live an authentic life and then to talk about, to
depict, that experience.” It is only but true when I say that Caravaggio is one
of the greatest and most influential artists of all time. It is proven within
the following(s) that Caravaggio inherited from the proceeding generation of
artists, such as the Caravaggisti or Caravagesques’ as well as, ‘Tenebrists or
Tenebrosi’ (Shadowists). He was so highly celebrated for his art, that he
generated such a massive following, all of which have been named and
categorised. This must represent something towards true authorship of art.
Going back to my statement earlier, debating whether having a ‘voice’ is the only
plausible element that can guarantee authorship to your work. Caravaggio had
such a strong presence in history, not necessarily a good presence, as it is
well known he is an ill-tempered criminal and murderer. But, did his life,
however dramatic and dark, create a trademark for his work. Hunter5
continues to say, “You initially think all of Caravaggio’s paintings are about
God and religions… they’re not, they’re actually about his life and the times
around him. They are living histories…” Caravaggio could almost be recognised
as a celebrity of his era, greatly hated for his actions but still famous in art
community. There was no denying he was a master of his craft. He truly
experienced life, even at its worst. Caravaggio had a story to tell, he had a
voice to use. His pain, torment and curiousity of the normality of life and its
people around him helped him discover an original style, that would be imitated
for hundreds of years to come and still happens to this day. So what position
does it leave the artists who imitated Caravaggio’s style? Tom Hunter openly
admitted to translating The Beheading of
St John the Baptist into his Halloween
Horror image from Living in Hell and
Other Stories series, simply to portray a strong message of violence, relating
to a shocking headline in Hackney, where a woman was attacked outside her flat
in front of her children. Does Hunter’s justification of using the word
‘translating’, give him some edge to authorship of this work in particular?
Even though, visually, it’s an almost replicated image of the original
painting. Naturally, once you’ve realised that Hunter’s work is using the
scenario of Beheading of St John the
Baptist, you automatically switch thoughts to Caravaggio and his great
work. You think why the artist wants to be referred to this painting, how much
significance does it hold? Yes, you understand that Hunter is making the point
of visual representation of violence, which Caravaggio mastered with the brush.
Because of this, I don’t believe Hunter will ever receive complete ‘authorship’
of this image. Comparing yourself to a great artist, might accidentally
outshine you. Luckily for Hunter though, he has a unique style of photography
which can’t really be compared to that of oil paintings to Caravaggio. Hunter
has that foundation to keep for himself, due to Hunter’s use of common London
backgrounds and ordinary ‘everyday’ people as models – (which could be compared
to Caravaggio’s use of ordinary models) – and bright, almost harsh spot
lighting, just slightly edges away from the being recognised as Caravaggio in
this particular series. Unlike Hunter, who had paid homage to Caravaggio. If we
travel back in time to year of 1601-02 where Amor Vincit Omnia had been created by Caravaggio, Giovanni Baglione
painted a direct response with Sacred
Love and Profane Love. Even Caravaggio himself had claimed, with some
justification, Baglione should be guilty of plagiarism. The painting itself
holds uncanny resemblance of theme, composition, colour and use of shadows and
Baglione had made this painting so shortly after the creation of Amor Vincit Omnia, it’s no wonder the
two artists had a rivalry which resulted in court. Sacred Love and Profane Love is recognised as Baglione’s most famous
works, but, there is still the inevitable tie to Caravaggio, there is still the
connection and comparison. How can Baglione claim authorship to his painting
even with the story of conflict between both artists? It would not be uncommon
for many artists around the time to seek inspiration from Caravaggio and that
would most likely be the case for Baglione. Is it unfortunate that the fact an
artist or artwork which is globally recognised, could taint your art? Or are
some of us not capable of inspiring ourselves, to be original? Can artists
today be original? Are we living in such a cluttered and recycled world that
art is just reproduced and reproduced? You could relate this issue to fashion,
we see styles that return after decades of untrendy, but will suddenly become
stylish and will be mass produced. Fashion always returns one way or another,
it will be reshaped, resewn and reinvented. Thinking back through my time, I
don’t think I have seen any sustainable ground-breaking fashion designs that we
haven’t already seen. Is this the case with art today? Is it a continuous
recycling circle?

                In the
wider picture, there is a very large volume of artists over the centuries to
present day, who all have passion to be an artist, to produce work that will
make 1 person, or 500,000 people think about the message displayed in their
art, consider the skills the artist has, think about where the idea formulated
from, the background behind it and what the artist is like as a person. Due to
there being so many talented artists who all have visions that need to be
shared, there will always be ideas that may be better or worse than others,
ideas that are duplicated, ideas that counteract another person’s and these
ideas are out in the world for us to see, or will be in the future. Us artists
soak this information in. Art surrounds us, especially in today’s world. We are
swamped with constant reminders of fashion, photography, graphic, literature,
philosophy and art, that it would be impossible to not be brain washed and
inspired. Authorship is so transparent now, that we just see art, as art and we
don’t really stop to think about the artist who created it. I see most modern
art as a general formation, a representation of all artists in the field today.
Unless, you are an artist who makes their selves as visible or, invisible as
their artwork, quite like the personalities of Grayson Perry, Jeff Koons or
Banksey. If you’ve slam-dunked your name onto your art, you may have created
the illusion of authorship, which can hide behind fame or fortune. But are they
still true to themselves as artists? Or is their work the result of decades of
artists all moulded into one finalised idea from this individual? Barthes6
explains, “It will always be impossible to know, for the good reason that all
writing is itself this special voice, consisting of several indiscernible
voices… literature is precisely the invention of this voice…”

 

 

 

chapter two

 

                This
chapter leads me onto on a question, which then leads onto another; can one’s
lifestyle influence the authorship to their art? Can it be possibly viable
that, the events in your life, whether it being dramatic, traumatic, mundane or
exciting, help secure real originality to your work, which reflects on these
events? But what is ‘original’ anyway? We can define the word original by this,
“the earliest form of something, from which copies may be made.”7 The
earliest form of something, the beginning or near off. Which begs the other
question; is anything original? Going back to the beginning of the first
chapter, we must accept the onslaught of inspiration and influences which we encounter day by
day. Our brains are sponges, we were born to take influence and information. Therefore,
to say that you are someone of originality – or to be completely original,
might be explaining yourself to be of someone, not human. So technically, whatever
kind of work we produce, whether it be art or an essay talking about an artwork,
still does not amount to originality. The process of producing, is the connection
of your conscious and sub-conscious thoughts formulating that idea which results
in your art or essay. Apart from legal intentions, are we foolish to claim differently.
As many have tried

1
Death of the
Author, Roland Barthes | Essay | Originally published 1967

2
Fig 1. The Beheading of St John the
Baptist, Caravaggio, 1604 | Sourced
from online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beheading_of_St_John_the_Baptist_(Caravaggio)
Accessed 28/11/207

3
Fig 2. Halloween Horror, Living in Hell
and Other Stories, Tom Hunter, 2003 |
Sourced from online: http://www.tomhunter.org/living-in-hell-and-other-stories/
Accessed 28/11/2017

4
Quote – Tom Hunter | Article, Caravaggio: how he influenced my art, The Guardian | Online: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jul/25/caravaggio-scorsese-lachapelle-peter-doig
Accessed 28/11/2017

5
Quote – Tom Hunter | 2010 | IBID

6
Death of the Author, Roland Barthes |
Essay | Originally published 1967

7
Oxford Dictionary of English, Edited by
Angus Stevenson | Oxford University Press | 2010

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