Artistes/copistes

Abstract : Simon Hantai, Allen Ruppersberg, Bruno Di Rosa, Gérard Collin-Thiébaut, Sherrie Levine copied the Bible, philosophical and literary texts, (Walden, Henry David Thoreau, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Journal Amiel ...). Following existing texts, these artists work looks like ‘banal, humble and mindless’ copyist work. Although in some cases copying is part of the painting – as in Peinture (Écriture rose) by Simon Hantai – produced mostly with a ballpoint pen on plain paper – as if the artists wanted to emphasize the trivial, time-consuming and monotonous nature of his/her effort and evoke the atmosphere of the school classroom of distant times. Allen Ruppersberg and Bruno Di Rosa indeed refer to school experience, when they declare that rewriting allowed them to ‘learn how to write’, just as copying masters allow beginners to learn to paint. But while copying allows us to establish organic relationship with the text, then the process of copying the text is not about maintaining certain tradition: it is rather about the role that language plays in the field of visual arts starting from the sixties. It contributes to the revaluation of values usually connected with art-pieces, such as originality, expression of subjectivity, etc. In numerous comments provoked by the copyist who appears in literature (Bouvard et Pécuchet, Bartleby ...), there is a subversive nature of this labor-intensive and mechanical actions – when it is practiced in art. Copying is a long-term job; successive lines of letters fill the pages of notebooks, creating a ‘full-bodied’ art-piece in the literal sense of the word. The quantitative aspect is carried out in various ways. If the point is to visualize the copy of an entire novel, and in order to embed the importance of work for systematic and ‘mandatory’ implementation, or in order to reach make more opportunity than necessity – copying allows us to experience the passage of time: the time that is spent on this completely anachronistic act ; time spent without any justification.
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Pascale Borrel. Artistes/copistes. Dyskurs : Pismo Naukowo-Artystyczne ASP we Wrocławiu, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych im. Eugeniusza Gepperta we Wrocławiu, 2015, pp.93-107. ⟨hal-01687756⟩

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