Replicas for the Masses, Replicas Galore

Sometimes I feel as if everything that surrounds me is just a recycled idea—especially in the supermarket. As I go down the aisle looking for laundry detergent, I see products that basically accomplish the same task. But because one product uses one percent more bleach or has an April fresh scent, it’s deemed an entirely new product. Even detergents that have been around for years are forced to recalibrate their product for the masses. In the corner of the laundry box somewhere you see a big neon star that is stamped ‘New and Improved!’ There’s nothing wrong with companies putting their own twist on an existing concept and profiting from it, so should the industry of art be held to the same standard?

There is an entire business that profits off of the original creations of world-renowned artists. The novelty gift called ‘Paint by Numbers’, which provided step by step guidance on how to recreate classic works such as Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, has bulldozed its way into the arena of mass production.

Want an original Picasso? Have no fear—there is a dutiful artist, or should I say factory worker, who is patiently waiting for John and Jane Q. Public to submit their request for a painted replica of a Picasso painting at the rock-bottom price of a guesstimated $200. These places are in shopping malls and are called ‘Painted with Oil’. I was so surprised to go bargain shopping for a timeless painting that has been reproduced at any size.

Perhaps you want to try and paint Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ on your very own? There are actual videos on YouTube and videos for sale that give you step by step instructions on how to trace Van Gogh’s composition, which brushes to use, and what areas to paint to complete “your” masterpiece. I wonder if the art barn actually uses those instructional videos to work more efficiently to churn out dozens of replicas every week. Is there honor in that? Shouldn’t those artists who recreate pieces be credited for their technique and precision? Have YOU ever purchased a painting that you know is a phony?


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