Saturday, April 3, 2010


Bacchus and Ariadne

Dosso Dossi

I hear there are lawsuits in our own age in the field of music about the practice of referencing older songs in newer songs. Any discernible echo can apparently be interpreted by the courts as plagiarism or fraud. Painters seem still to be allowed to cite earlier work without getting into trouble with the authorities. Still, in the set of examples above the viewer wonders whether Titian might not justifiably have sued Dosso Dossi for lifting Bacchus whole & unrevised, and selling him off within two years of Titian's original.

Johannes Vermeer
The Astronomer

Jonathon Janson
Jeune homme à l'ordinateur

After yesterday's look at Goya's Third of May and its descendants I started sifting through my digital image files for parallel cases. And I started wondering why visual quotations are socially more acceptable than musical ones. Probably just because the famous lawsuits tend to be about pop music, where huge amounts of money are involved. Perhaps there is no mainstream mass-market visual equivalent (except for Robert Indiana's LOVE logo, which in fact has been the subject of lawsuits).

The Prophet Isaiah

Norman Rockwell
Rosie the Riveter