Recently a friend of mine wrote on my FB profile..."You can do better than Barbra Cruger-esque work" My immediate reaction to his comment was why Cruger and not Munch? The work in question was take on Munch's work The Cry rendered in Cruger-esque style. But he still chose to pin me on Cruger and not Munch.
I had referred to two artists in western art history whose works I admired... one whose work i had appropriated and second whose style i copied... The work in question neither belonged to Cruger nor Munch... but depicted my own predicament of life. There were three identities at play in the same work. Munch , Cruger and mine. So whose identity mattered most?
Appropriation of old masters work is a given art historical practice. That was the least of the issue in this argument. So it was between Cruger and me. It is really interesting to know how some people chose to react to this same work depending on the 'identity' they chose to see.
while some chose to see Cruger's identity over mine like my esteemed friend belonging to art fraternity and therefore disappointed by the work, while others saw mine over Cruger's stylistic approach and wondered what I was trying to convey.
So how does one define one's identity through a work of art? Is it the stylistic approach or the artistic content? Can multiple identities exist in the same work of art? Can an artist not have his or her own stylistic identity and still make a relevant contribution. Is artistic style a critical issue or commercial one? does style really matter today? or artistic style is passe and single artist can have multiple stylistic approaches... who cares who you are?
Finally in a globalized world what identity really means? Is it your personal/religious/national/or global persona that will define who you are? Or none of it really maters any more. Like Chuck Close said in one his interviews.... "I don't care for the integrity of the artist... all I ask is the work relevant to me...."