Thursday, January 14, 2010

Copying the Most Popular Paintings of the Last Decade

Wichita, Kansas is the home, the Internet leader in handmade reproductions of famous oil paintings. As it does every 10 years, the company has again released a Top 10 list of their most popular oil paintings from the past decade. Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” tops OverstockArt‘s list of best sellers.
  1. "Starry Night" – Vincent van Gogh
  2. "Café Terrace at Night" – Vincent van Gogh
  3. "The Kiss" – Gustav Klimt
  4. "Poppy Field at Argenteuil" – Claude Monet
  5. "The Mona Lisa" – Da Vinci
  6. "Le Rêve" (The Dream in French) – Pablo Picasso
  7. "Luncheon of the Boating Party" – Pierre August Renoir
  8. "The Scream" – Edvard Munch
  9. "Red Cannas" – Georgia O’Keeffe
  10. "Persistence of Memory" – Salvador Dali
As our readers know, BINDERS Art Blog was created to keep you in the know, so read on.

OverstockArt claims that soaring art auction prices for paintings at Christie’s and Sotheby’s have made hand painted reproductions an affordable alternative. The company says over the past decade, it has become a portal for art lovers who want to enjoy the hand painted art of the great masters in their homes, even if the paintings it sells aren’t the originals.

It is not our purpose here to comment on the artistic value of such paintings, nor their prices and origins, nor to reveal who painted them. You can learn all that through Google or Yahoo.

Instead, let’s just discuss “copying” as a tool for teaching. We are mindful that just about every painter we know has their own favorite artist, a master whose work opened his or her eyes to art as a profession or avocations. And indeed probably many of us have probably tried to replicate at least one painting by the artists we love.

Historically, the practice of copying another’s work is actually a venerable tradition that goes back to Michelangelo and da Vinci. According to Smithsonian magazine, copying another artist’s work is a time-honored way for artists to sharpen their own painting skills.

At the Louvre in Paris, or instance, copyists, as they are known, have been allowed, even encouraged, to hone their skills by copying the masterpieces in its collections ever since the museum opened its treasures to public view in 1793.

Thousands have done so, including great classical painters from Turner to Ingres, Impressionists from Manet to Degas, and modernists like Chagall and Giacometti. “You have to copy and recopy the masters,” Degas insisted, “and it’s only after having proved oneself as a good copyist that you can reasonably try to do a still life of a radish.”

Today, fewer and fewer leading American museums permit copyists to paint in their galleries. The Smithsonian still allows it; but the High Museum does not. Which means, if you want to copy another artist’s work you’ll likely have to rely on photos or prints.

You be the judge. For better or worse, in the past decade OverstockArt sold more than a million hand painted copies of famous oil paintings.

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