The Great Debate: Bootleg Art The Twyla team tackles a tough chat that leads to an enlightening conversation.
We recently received a strongly-worded chat regarding one of our artists: Eric Doeringer. He is known on Twyla for his Warhol-inspired Campbell's soup cans. His practice revolves around the notion of ownership, authorship and intellectual property in the visual arts. He terms his works "bootlegs" and "recreations," critiquing the grey areas that abound in conceptual art, "appropriation," and the law. His work may outrage some but he has nonetheless cultivated a large following of fans, from New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz and his wife, NYTimes critic Roberta Smith, to a number of artists who have actually approached him to replicate their works. Conceptual art such as Eric's can be highly controversial, so we weren't totally surprised when we received the chat message below. Read on to see how a Twyla curator and a passionate collector each made their respective cases. Who is right? The beauty of art is that you get to decide for yourself.
Chat to Twyla:
Are you !@#x*% kidding me? The thing I thought Twyla had going for it was bringing new relatively unknown artist together with collectors. A Warhol knock-off? This is deeply disappointing. Don't do this if you want to be relevant and lasting. BOO!!!
Emilie T., Twyla Curator
I am the curator that works with Eric Doeringer. I saw your chat message and wanted to reach out and help clarify Eric's process.
Eric is a conceptual artist who teaches at the School of Visual Art in NYC. His entire practice revolves around the notion of authorship and he painstakingly recreates iconic artworks, from works by Ed Ruscha to Rauschenberg to Warhol, which he terms as bootlegs.
I implore you to read this review of his work and specifically his Campbells soup cans in the New York Times.
He has also given a Ted talk on intellectual property in contemporary art that you can view here:
I hope this elevates your opinion about his work and Twyla. : )
Please let me know if I can offer any further assistance.
Thanks for the thoughtful message. I am an intellectual property professional and I am more aware of the issues than almost anyone. Doeringer is merely imitating the antics of Richard Prince, who, incidentally, has suffered catastrophic consequences due to his misappropriation of others' works. Mr. Doeringer is simply trading off of peoples' ignorance or misguided desires to own a Warhol but don’t realize they are looking at a a fake Warhol. The way to recover from that disaster was to develop and support the careers of newer, unestablished artists - creating/nurturing relationships between collectors and artists that wouldn’t exist in the first place. Then the beauty and importance of the limited editions market would once again flourish. This is what I thought Twyla was attempting to accomplish. And that was what so excited me when I discovered the existence of Twyla. Please keep your mission pure or face the consequences of becoming the next Paddle 8. The market desperately needs a limited edition art revival. I, for one, want you to succeed.
Emilie T., Twyla Curator
I actually worked at Gagosian Gallery during the first Richard Prince incident with the Rastafarian photos (in Chelsea, in fact) and I also find Prince's abuse of appropriation distasteful and reckless, but I see a distinct difference between that case and this.
Additionally, I assure you, no one buying a Doeringer thinks they are buying a Warhol.
I understand you feel strongly about this issue and are an expert, however I hope you will understand that we work with 130 emerging artists and Eric is one of the kindest and most serious artists I work with and his integrity is irrefutable. So I trust we can agree to disagree in this case.
If you ever find yourself in NY or LA during the Printed Matter art book fair, I encourage you to look Eric up (he is usually exhibiting) and meet him in person. I'm confident you and Eric would have a very interesting conversation that could result, at the very least, in a new appreciation for his intent and the conceptual premise for his artistic practice.
He is one of the good guys, I promise.
At Twyla, we stand by each and every one of our artists and believe in their fantastic work. Great art often sparks great debates and we are lucky to have conversations like this. They help us dive deeper into our artists' philosophies and offer different perspectives on all sides of a debate. Being challenged only helps us grow, so keep reaching out to our website's chat feature with your questions, comments, and concerns.
*Stay tuned for updates on this conversation as they come. Want to weigh in? Email us at [email protected].
“I stand for the reuse and re-contextualization of beauty created by others.”
– ERIC DOERINGER