Copy Cats

We were intrigued by a few recent plagiarism stories related to the art world.

On an international level, acclaimed sculptor Anish Kapoor recently learned that his most famous sculpture, Cloud Gate, also referred to as “the bean,” has been the subject of plagiarism. A “big oil bubble” will debut in Karamay in northwest China sometime this month. Images of the work definitely resemble the beloved bean, a fixture and major attraction in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Kapoor is threatening to sue, noting that the Chinese authorities must “allow enforcement of copyright.” Karamay’s tourism board denies that the work is a copy of Kapoor’s, but…take a look. It seems pretty obvious to us, no?

Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" in Chicago

Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” in Chicago

China's upcoming "big oil bubble" sculpture, thought to be a copy of Kapoor's "bean"

China’s upcoming “big oil bubble” sculpture, thought to be a copy of Kapoor’s “bean”

Another similar art controversy this week involves four unauthorized copies of John Raimondi‘s sculptures, Dian and Ceres (renamed Link to Compassion and Intertwined, respectively)The owner, Russian-born, Florida-based billionaire Igor Olenicoff was ordered to pay the artist $640,000 for having the unauthorized copies (made in China). They were installed at two of his development sites — the site of similar controversy in 2014, involving six unauthorized copies of works by Donald Wakefield. The weirdest part of the case, and something that may not bode well for Kapoor, is that the judge denied the artist’s request that the fake sculptures be destroyed. Instead, Judge Andrew Guilford is allowing Olenicoff to keep the works, but he must add placards, attributing them to the artist, but noting that they are not authorized versions. The decision basically results in a forced or compulsory license; in an unprecedented case, Raimondi must accept that four sculptures made without his consent or involvement will hereafter be attributed to him.



Lastly, we want to mention something hitting a bit closer to home. Several Charlotte artists have posted via social media that their art is being sold as cheap posters through the Poster Shop (or wallpart, but FYI, do not go to the website). The site seems to cull images from web searches, meaning any online images of your art are targets if someone searches for your name on the website. As if blatant plagiarism isn’t enough, it seems that the site is just a massive phishing scam. Enraged artists are told to fill out a copyright violation form, which essentially just provides the scammers with contact information and other important details. So…don’t visit the site, and don’t fill out the forms or petitions. Ignore. Carry on making your work. And those tempted by $8 posters: don’t rip off artists. Ever. If you have found something you really love, but it feels like a bit of a stretch price wise, save your pennies. Or get on a payment plan. Or shop at the level you can afford, looking toward emerging artists. We promise that you will not regret the joy associated with supporting an authentic, hard working artist.


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