Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Notions of originality...

As a creative, you find yourself striving for originality and individuality, but it's something that's much harder to come across than yer might think; I had a haircut a couple of years ago that I thought was amazing in every single way and individual, only for people to tell me how I looked the spit of Gok Wan... it's been a trauma that I've only recently gotten over. Moral of the story: people all over the world are having 'original' ideas every second of the day, so don't presume your ideas are completely and solely yours.

To be a true original, you need to know what came before you and what came before that. THEN you might be able to create something that you think is the next step in that chain. But then it's like just a new representation of an idea already out there no? NO! Well yes actually, it can be. All you need to do is look at Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints and place it next to David LaChapelle's Amanda Lepore photograph to see repetition/homage/development:
Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol and Amanda Lepore photographed by LaChapelle
Does the fact there is an obvious reference and influence make LaChapelle’s work invalid? It's a parody. Like Esquires' recent cover image of Ricky Gervais recreating another cover with Muhammed Ali:

Ricky Gervais recreates this cover of Muhammed Ali, but we get a very different meaning, which is down to Gervais' facial expression.

The fact that LaChapelle has photographed the cult and probably a less commercially well known person Lepore reflects the fact he is targeting a different audience to that which Warhol targets. The selection of models gives interesting semiotics for both pieces. Monroe represents femininity, beauty, glamour and class. Lepore represents notoriety, extreme surgery, created femininity, fun and reflects on the vibrant underground scene she is a part of.

Can recontextualised ideas be contemporary?

This is an idea that relates well to those notions of originality. Especially when looking at parody and homage.

Mario Sorrenti photographed Kate Moss tweekin’ the nipple of some fella for a YSL advert. If you were unaware of any previous works then probably you’d just accept that image at face value. However it is a piece almost identical to a piece called Gabrielle d'Estrees, by an unknown artist.

Gabrielle d'Estrees by an unknown photographer

Kate Moss in a 1998 advert for YSL by Mario Sorrenti

At the time of release, the portrait of Gabrielle d'Estrees was very controversial, but today the image of Kate Moss isn't shocking at all. Obviously, as times have changed and peoples ideas about how we should behave has evolved, we have arguably become desensitised to images of sexuality. An audience changes and, because of that, the way that people respond to a piece alters too. By modernising something like the d'Estrees image, using it in contemporary media like an advert for a high fashion brand and photographing current celebrity models, it makes it more relevant to a contemporary audience.

Sorrenti’s aim is in this picture, to SELL the brand YSL. The earlier portrait’s aim could be to reflect the sexuality of the women that were painted. The fact that the intention is completely different defines the pieces themselves and again gives new meaning to each piece.

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