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dreamwolf's avatar

Do you consider collage art plagiarism?

Asked by dreamwolf (3142 points ) September 27th, 2011

Obviously collage is comprised of mixed media, sometimes with magazine and other physical media forms of cutouts and etc. Do you think the end result of collage as an art is a form of plagiarism?

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11 Answers

ddude1116's avatar

I wouldn’t, no, because you’re openly acknowledging somebody else’s art, or your own, for that matter, and putting it together with the art of others as a means of enhancing it to fulfill one specific purpose. Plagiarism would be if you took one person’s art and published it as yours as it is. Or if you are using somebody else’s character in a drawing of your own, it would be simply a lack of acknowledgement to the initial creator.

Jeruba's avatar

Not plagiarism, no. But I suppose there could be grounds for questioning someone else’s reuse of your material, much like the issue of sampling in music and incorporating samples of someone else’s music into your composition. Proportion might be one aspect of this: how big a piece of someone else’s work you used in your composition, and how much of your composition consists of the work of others.

On the other hand—did the bicycle maker have a claim on this piece or not?

Pandora's avatar

No. Its not the one piece that interest people but rather the all the little details that went into making it.
Its like when you pick a quote. People know certain part of the collage isn’t your original work nor are you saying it is your original work. Your simply telling a storry with someone elses work.

Supacase's avatar

I agree with @ddude1116 about the definition of plagiarism. Collages are, by definition, compilations of a variety of other people’s work. There could be a case made for receiving permission to use it or clearly acknowledging the original artists, though. Along the same lines as referencing materials used for writing papers, articles, books, etc.

@Jeruba I would say that is a piece of found or recycled art. The bike was made for practical use and Picasso repurposed a few parts to make a sculpture. If I rip the upholstery off of my chair and make a wall hanging out of it then sell it in a yard sale, I wouldn’t feel compelled to share my $3 with the company that made the chair. Of course, I’m not Picasso and my wall hanging could never compare to “Bull’s Head,” but the use of materials is a fairly legitimate comparison.

dabbler's avatar

Not at all plagiarism, unless you’ve done something trivial with a fully framed idea.

We collage regularly with magazine pics and what we end up would not be mistaken for any of the source material.

If the work were ever intended for sale though there would be concern for copyright if any of the resulting features depends heavily on the theme of an original page. It’s probably a grey area but I plan on being unfamous for it and keeping it for myself, to accumulate in that pile up there on the shelf.

dreamwolf's avatar

@dabbler Say an artist decides to cut out of a National Geographic book. Uses a photo in a collage, prints them for the masses, and sells them online. Could the photographer take the collage artist to court? Assuming the artist had no agreement with the photographer at all.

dabbler's avatar

@dreamwolf Basically yes.

Here is some good analysis of the legal side of collage for commercial purposes.

If you’re designing a piece for a client you should clearly be cautious.
Professionals will shoot their own photos to cut up and use in order to avoid legal issues. Even if you win a lawsuit, defending yourself could cost way more than you made on the piece.

But if you’re playing and intend to not sell the piece nor display it in public, then such concerns are moot, have fun !

Additional reference
And from the Wiki

wundayatta's avatar

Nope. It’s reasonable use. It’s like a mash-up in music.

downtide's avatar

No, unless you’re using collage to copy an existing work, such as a collage version of the Mona Lisa. The samples you use in a collage are not used as art in and of themselves, they’re just the medium with which art is made.

dabbler's avatar

Philosophically, morally and ethically I totally encourage composing whatever amuses you out of published material. That’s what I do.

But the current jurisprudence on collage seems to not be in your favor if recognizable parts of another work are in your collage and they bring suit.
For some reason the visual art/collage precedents are not of the same mind as the music cases.
And an unfortunate part for most collage artists is that the cease and desist will come from the legal team of a mega-corporation who owns the original rights. The cost of doing anything but cease and desist would wipe most of us out. Whether or not we’re ‘right’.

So just don’t market it if you have not taken appropriate precautions.
A professional will have to find a way to get the concept expressed in a legally unencumbered fashion.

Nullo's avatar

I might not consider it art – I feel that there needs to be some skill and sense of aesthetics involved, and not all ‘art’ demonstrates that – but it doesn’t sound like plagiarism.

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