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February 9, 2007

Chinese Panini
Posted by Teresa at 09:21 PM * 112 comments

If I had the money to collect naive art, I believe I’d be tempted by this painting, found on the website of All Oil Paint/Masterpiece Oil Paintings Reproduction/Beijing Star Works. All Oil Paint are in the business of copying paintings. For a three-figure sum (or the low four digits, if you want something elaborate by Alma-Tadema), you can buy yourself a copy of a painting your friends and relatives will never in a million years believe you actually own (or, in some cases, want on your wall—All Oil Paint is splendidly indiscriminate that way). At least they don’t copy famous paintings except all the people’s heads are replaced with cat or dog heads, or everyone’s turned into a Botero-balloon—really, they exist, I’ve seen them. And since the only living artist I’ve spotted All Oil Paint ripping off is Thomas Kinkade, their product line bothers me not at all.

On the other hand, it doesn’t tempt me, either. If I wanted to hang Starry Night on my wall, I’d buy an art print of the original. The dubious joys of owning a bad replica of a famous painting are unconnected with the sense of glee I felt on beholding the painting in question—which, to do both it and its original an injustice, might loosely be described as a copy of Giovanni Paolo Panini’s Picture Gallery with Views of Ancient Rome.

I like it because you’d have to be blind to mistake it for the original. The artist has really gotten his teeth into the subject, which isn’t surprising, given that it’s a painting about art and artists. I like the odalisque who’s been turned into a sheep, the gentlemen whose white linen shirt has turned into muttonchop whiskers, the drapery at the foot of the giant urn that’s become a looped-back overskirt worn (with knee breeches) by the guy carrying the box, and the unapologetic way the statues in the hallway have been transformed into chubby adolescent louts. Also, the artist has no idea what’s happening to Laocoon & Sons. The Dying Gaul has simply disappeared. And I think that’s Chinese calligraphy on the prints in the foreground.

It’s fearless, is what it is. The artist is getting stuff wrong because he doesn’t know what he’s seeing, but he’s plunging ahead confidently. The joy of it is that the artists in the painting are doing much the same thing: familiarizing themselves with a body of art by sitting down and copying it. I’m sure that if I could look over their shoulders, they too would be getting stuff wrong in interesting ways.

Besides, if Giovanni Paolo Panini’s original image had been all that singular and inviolate, he wouldn’t have painted it three times, the hack.

Comments on Chinese Panini:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:40 PM:

I'm reminded of a tape of golden oldies from Taiwan, where it's absolutely clear that everybody is singing the english phonetically - the lead singer's words can be mostly understood as words, but the chorus is fascinating.

#2 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:48 PM:

I...I almost like the Kinkade fakes. Having a deep and abiding aversion to the man's work, this disturbs me greatly. Maybe it's because the copies have toned down the "every light source throbs like a disco and radiates like it's nuclear" problem? I don't know. I think I need to go wash my brain.

#3 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 09:57 PM:

I'm afraid I too get a thrill out of seeing Thomas Kinkade ripped off. (Although you could consider it bad news for the poor gallery owners who are already suffering from his market saturation ploys.)

Maybe Panini was just trying to get it right--or maybe he had three offers he couldn't refuse on one painting. (Although, perhaps potential patrons would be offended that he'd painted other versions, so maybe that was a bad idea.)

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Oh, the Kinkade fakes are absolutely better than the originals.

There's a massive unfinished post about Thomas Kinkade's art in my Movable Type queue. It never escapes onto the front page because I have too much to say on the subject.

#5 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:11 PM:

@4: You know you want to. Also, we want you to.

Also, I have to admit that the header "Chinese Panini" made me wonder if you had discovered a fusion recipe involving bok choi and flatbread.

But art is tasty, too.

#6 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:20 PM:

You have to wonder why a man who has six Mona Lisas would go through the trouble of stealing a seventh.

#7 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:37 PM:

I, too (three?), wish to read the excessively long rant on Kinkade! I don't know art well enough to express coherently or precisely why I dislike his work so very much, though I suspect that smug little (TM) at the end of "Painter of Light" has as much to do with it as the actual art.

#8 ::: zhwj ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:39 PM:

The New York Times took a look at the assembly-line reproduction industry, as did the Asia Sentinel. Some interesting quotes about volume and cost in there: The fastest of the workers here, most of whom labor in "art factories" outside Dafen, paint more Van Goghs in a month than the impoverished artist (who sold only one) did in his lifetime (about 800). The best can brush out 30 a day, says Shi Fei, an artist, gallery owner and art assembly line factory honcho who employs 12 "students" who earn about 200-300 yuan a month, plus room and board for their art assembly-line skills.

#9 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:49 PM:

Well Teresa, you know how I feel about Kinkade. Add me to the list of those who want to see your essay!

The picture this post is about though... Sheer wonder. It's like if Henry Darger had found the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and copied it.

#10 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:50 PM:

Hallway statues...I can't...incoherent...eyes...bladder...huuuuuuurts....

(Re: Kinkade: In a previous life when I was an art student, family members would tell me that maybe someday I'd be as good as Bob Ross. The idea tempted me to throw myself from a bridge more than any adolescent breakup ever had.)

#11 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:52 PM:

That is marvelous.

I'm also glad others don't like Thomas Kinkade. I find his works a bit creepy (forced wholesomness) and he's apparently also really mean to his gallery holders.

#12 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:54 PM:

I'm with Thena @ 5, only I was picturing a grill-pressed chia siu bao. Which would almost certainly be tasty.

#13 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Minor technical footnote to #8: 200 yuan is officially $25, but in practice, at Chinese prices, it's roughly equivalent to maybe $60-75. In case anyone wondered.

#14 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:12 PM:

Oh, hell. I had just recovered from the hallway statues when I saw the calla lilies in the first faux-Kinkade link.

I think the reason the imitation Kinkades are better than the originals is that the structures in them don't have the freakish hyperperfection Kinkade is obsessed with.

Also, they look like several 1500-piece puzzles I enjoyed futzing with before I had cats. I feel kinda nostalgic.

#15 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:17 PM:

Funnily enough, the fake Van Goghs are among the ones I'd be more tempted by. I've bought prints of my favorite Van Goghs, and never put them up. There's no point. A Van Gogh painting is all about the physical, refractive and reflective properties of very, very thick paint laid on canvas. If the copy was impasto *enough*, it would stand some chance of catching some of the feel of the original. And I have to say the depth of their Van Gogh catalog is totally amazing. They've got paintings of his I've never seen, and I've seen a few. I'm actually tempted to order #43, which, in person, is one of my favorite Van Goghs. And for $90, it's almost worth the experiment. (As Hal points out, the painting of copies used to be an honorable endeavor, when photoprints were not yet invented -- hell, copywork for his own pleasure and edification was one of the things Van Gogh himself did.)

And of course just the concept of a faux Kincade is totally charming. Though not enough to pay for.

#16 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:18 PM:

"Besides, if Giovanni Paolo Panini’s original image had been all that singular and inviolate, he wouldn’t have painted it three times, the hack."

Oh, that's why da Vinci is a master - he only painted the Madona of the Rocks twice! (although they are not exact copies - there are interesting iconographical differences). ;>

Add my voice to those longing to hear your wisdom on Thomas Kinkade - I have some ideas as to why I don't like his work, but I've never managed to look at it long enought to get really specific. For me, it has a considerably amount to do with what I consider a truly insipid palette, and that lemon-light effect.

#17 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:27 PM:

"As Hal points out, the painting of copies used to be an honorable endeavor, when photoprints were not yet invented -- hell, copywork for his own pleasure and edification was one of the things Van Gogh himself did."

Lots and lots of people - including first class people - did this. I've seen a painting that was purported to be a Rubens copy of a lost Michelangelo, with a provenance, if proven, to back it up. I don't know what happened to it - an art history professor I knew was doing some preliminary research on it, which was how I saw it.

Didn't see any prima facie evidence that it wasn't - other than the very unlikelihood of it all. I don't know what happened to it - my guess is that it turned out to be someone else's copy. But that Rubens was copying Michelangelo was not considered to be the unlikely part of the story.

You'll still (especially in the big East Coast museums) see art students copying works, usually in pencil, but sometimes someone will get permission to use oils. I did it myself.

#18 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:29 PM:

The Waterhouses you link to are jpg reproductions of real Waterhouses...likewise most of the stuff in the orientalist section (although they don't appear to have my favorite, "the light of the harem"). Also the Sargent "Madame X" looks like they ran a filter on a jpg of the real one, or maybe printed it on canvas.

So, you know, if you buy one, make sure you buy a genuine hand-painted fake, and not a crappy fake made by printing a good reproduction on canvas.

I kind of want the wild-jazz-party one, it pains me to say...

#19 ::: Evelyn Browne ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:29 PM:

Thena @ 5: I was expecting a Chinese Sanskrit grammarian *g*.

Rob @ 6: Because no one will buy the real one if it's still hanging in the Louvre!

#20 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:35 PM:

I keep staring at what's going on under the urn, and it still looks to me like a young woman in yellow and blue fainting aggressively onto a small Negro pageboy in white stockings. This is in the Chinese interpretation, to be clear.
The musing figure under the missing Dying Gaul seems to have been mutated into either a lion-dog or one of the mushroom people from Matango: Fungus of Terror.

#21 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2007, 11:38 PM:

I recall the passage of Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky where the Emergents show off insanely detailed engraved murals that were made by their Focused slaves: some people are being paid a pathetic amount of money to paint like Leonardo da Vinci.

Of course, it isn't Leonardo, but it can't be easy, either.

#22 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:03 AM:

Please add me to the growing list of people who want to read your thoughts on Kinkade. Please also add me to the mailing lists for any future planned mobs should there be an uprising against him and all he stands for (I have my own pitchfork and can supply flaming torches).

Margaret @ 16: I think my hatred for him really started to burn when I saw America's Pride and Light of Freedom at the same time.

#23 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:20 AM:

Teresa, my suspicion is that the artist of the Panini - besides just being exuberantly unfamiliar with this style of work - was painting directly from one of the JPEGs you linked to, or from a similarly very low detail reproduction. In the Wikipedia JPEG, the odalisque on her couch is barely distinguishable from a sheep, it's nearly impossible to make out details of the artists' clothes, and so on.

I add my ditto for the Kincade rant. A partial or semi-coherent version would be better than none.

Also, the Something Awful goons' Photoshop Phriday sessions have lit into Kincade on more than one occasion.

#24 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:41 AM:

#5: Oh, good. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this was going to be about bread.

* * *

Is it just me, or is there's something vaguely off, perspective-wise, about the Kinclones?

My great aunt lives in Carmel. Kincaid is her neighbor. She does not have a very high opinion of him.

#25 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:48 AM:

The coupon-supplement that comes with the Sunday paper is a reliable source of advertisements for hideous kitsch.

Thomas Kincaid collectables -- music boxes, Christmas villages and the like -- are offered several times a year.

They're uniformly hideous.

I clip the ads out and send them to my sister, an actual working artist.

#26 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:08 AM:

Ahh, reinterpretations. Does anyone remember Hyakugojyuuichi?

TV says donuts are high in fat, kazoo
Found a hobo in my room
It's princess Leia, the yodel of life
Give me my sweater back or I'll play the guitar

#27 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:09 AM:

At least there will be no question over whether it is a forgery or not.

I kinda liked the person in what I take to be clerical robes who has been transformed into a crabby old woman.

The reclining sheep with its back to the viewer in place of the odalesque is just -- priceless.

#28 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:13 AM:

I can't figure out what's supposed to be casting the patches of light and shadow in the ersatz Kincaids. It doesn't seem to correspond to anything in the sky. I've seen rants about him before but I too would welcome another one.

The one that's tempting me, though, is "I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold".

#29 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:27 AM:

#28: Gee, thanks D. You made me go back and look at those things again.

#30 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 02:45 AM:

"As Hal points out, the painting of copies used to be an honorable endeavor, when photoprints were not yet invented -- hell, copywork for his own pleasure and edification was one of the things Van Gogh himself did."

I've done that, when I was in the Vatican museums.

I was mainly sketching stonework and so-on, especially in the Egyptian section, but I also sketched a Van Gogh in the Modern Religious Art section.

#31 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 03:13 AM:

Darn it, D, that's not a bad take on the original.

...and recursion of a recursive painting is almost . .. well .. darn.

A (brief overview) for those who'd like the poem also.)

#32 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:44 AM:

Please do Kinkade, even if it is shooting fish in a barrel.

I don't know the original of the painting you don't want on your wall. I'm sure I should. But this one looks overwhelmingly like the Bellowhead after-show party. (Video of Bellowhead may give you a better idea).

#33 ::: Gdr ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 05:34 AM:

I can't figure out what's supposed to be casting the patches of light and shadow in the ersatz Kincaids. It doesn't seem to correspond to anything in the sky.

Maybe it's a deliberate effect, like in Magritte's L’Empire des lumières?

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 05:45 AM:


The only thing that would cause me to not want that Kincaid article up is if you gave me a choice between it and the The Left Hand of Darkness as fanfic article.

Go on, you know you want to post it.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 07:30 AM:

I want Roger Dean's painting of the two wolverines in a snowy landscape. Or those he did for War of The Worlds.

#36 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:44 AM:

Teresa, let the post escape. You know you want to.

The man (Kinkade) drives me batty. From the nuclear shrubbery to the sappy sentimentalism of his pieces to his shady art sales techniques. Blech, blech, and blech again. It's not just one thing, it's the whole.

The whole Painter of Light title irks me. I mean, what did he think the rest of us were doing? Painters of Ultraviolet and Infrared Spectrums? Painters of Things Not Quite Illuminated? And really, trademarking it? If anyone deserves that title for obsessively painting his subjects in changing light, it's Monet for his Rouen paintings.

Confession time: There is one Kinkade painting I liked as a teen--a picture of turn-of-the-century San Francisco in the rain. It's about the only time his peculiar lighting actually worked for the painting, what with the rainy roads reflecting the light back up.

#37 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:09 AM:

Sigh. I have nothing original to say.

I, too, thought for a split second that this was going to be a restaurant review. Teresa lives in New York City, where such a thing as "Kosher Chinese Pizza" is available. A grill-pressed General Tso's Chicken does not seem that extreme, in the most multicultural city in the world.

I, too, would like to read Teresa crushing Kinkade. If it's too long, Teresa, you could publish it in parts (a month apart, say).

I find the Chinese painter's take on Laocoön particularly giggleworthy.

#38 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:17 AM:

I think I've heard of Kinkade before, I seem to vaguely remember a news item about him and copyright... no, can't place it. But I've never seen his work befoe. It's... kind of creepy, like Pennywise the clown in Stephen King's It. Like it's meant to cheery or warm, but the thing creating them doesn't understand those feelings, so the best it can do is copy those features from other paintings in an effort to attract its prey....

#39 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 10:39 AM:

I actually haven't ever heard of Kinkade before, though I'm starting to get the impression this was a fortunate bit of ignorance. I'd be happy to hear Teresa explain just how blessed my ignorance has been...

Ulrka @ 15: You've reminded me of my experience at the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, where I worshipped at the shrine of Vermeer, then thought about buying a print -- and didn't, because it was too easy to look carefully at the prints, go back to the real painting, go back to the prints, and realize that none of the prints got the colors quite right -- and the colors were a key part of what made the paintings work.

#40 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Ulrika at #15: I agree - the charm of a painted copy is that it's made of paint.

A few years ago, I went to The Hague to see Vermeer's View on Delft, which was hanging in a small room opposite the more famous Girl With a Pearl Earring, That was the day that I realized how hopelessly inadequate an art print is. Paint is amazing. Its color, texture, and effect cannot be duplicated easily.

...and, will you look at that: Peter at #39 has beaten me to the Vermeer post. Hello, fellow Dutch museumgoer! I highly recommend a visit to Den Haag!

#41 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 11:10 AM:

I find Kinkade's paintings deep-down creepy in much the same way I find these "photographs" creepy. Something about them adds up to a bone-deep feeling of wrong.

#42 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 11:23 AM:

For those of you who can't get to The Hague, try The Frick in NY. It has a nifty collection of Vermeers.

I have the same reaction to Kinkade's art that I do to Steven Spielberg's movies; I run screaming from the room at the emotional manipulation.

#43 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 11:47 AM:

G. Jules at #41: I may need to send you my therapy bills. I don't know what those photographs were "color examples" of, but I'm now scarred for life. And scared. Very scared.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Fade 43: Don't they look like posed and colored corpses? It's the wide-eyed staring that does it.

#45 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:02 PM:

MikeB @ 40: Spoooooky.

The irony is that the day before my visit to the Rijksmuseum, my friend and I did visit Den Haag -- but we didn't get to the museum! (Either it was closed, or we'd spent so much time in Leiden that by the time we got to Den Haag, there wasn't time left.) But I'll definitely keep it in mind for my next visit.

To continue the copying theme: while we were in Amsterdam, we visited the Van Gogh Museum, which had a special exhibition on Japanese and Chinese art imported to Europe in the late 19th Century. Part of the exhibition featured Van Gogh's copies/interpretations of prints by Hiroshige.

G. Jules @ 41: Good God, those are creepy. Yeesh. I feel all twitchy now.

#46 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Peter @45: Reading this topic (Chinese painters copying Western art), I was reminded of how Japanese prints were said to have inspired the impressionists, and Van Gogh in particular. At the time, wadded-up prints had been used as packing material for objects shipped from Japan.

It has been suggested that the most interesting and dynamic art comes about when different cultures make contact. What we think of as Northwest Coast Indian art really didn't get started until Russian and European traders moved into the area. One of the items the Indians traded for was vermillion pigment; nothing in their environment provided as nice a red.

#47 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Jules@41: Oi. That creepy effect seems to be the result of too much makeup, fake extensions, and messing with the photos digitally post-production. I took them into my Photoshop where they showed signs of blurring and inconsistent artifacting. Also, I am fairly sure that the highlights in the eyes were either digitally added or hyperblown out, as was the eye colour. And two of the girls look as though their eyes were merely flipped left to right or vice versa, and then resized to fit over the original eye. Except the alignment looks a little off. It's hard to tell for sure. The teeth and the whites of the eyes and various highlights on the lips seem to have been tweaked as well. (This ones eye whites sampled at #F8F9F1. Really close to pure screen white--#FFFFFF. Not a colour achieved in nature.)

#48 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:31 PM:

#41: Those are dolls, right? They can't possibly be real people. Or, um, androids, or synthetic virtual-reality pop idols as per Idoru. Right? Please?

#49 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Ulrika @15:
I would go even further, and say that I prefer the lucent qualities of paint - even in a less popular piece - to masterly composition and drawing. I'd rather have a second-rate original than a copy of a masterwork.

As a result of this, we have only original art on our walls*. Some of it is factory art from a door to door seller (two abstracts and one figure in oil). Some of it is from lesser professional artists. And some of it is from amateurs, many of them in exchange for bound books.

* Except in the kids' room, which has one picture from a card shop. Whaddaya gonna do?

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Teresa, let me add my voice to those imploring you to post your Kincade article.

There's nothing gives bad dreams at night
as seeing the detailed, excessively bright,
crimes against taste
produced in great haste
by Kinkade, the painter of shite.

#51 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Who is this? Lady Hester Stanhope?

#52 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Concerning Asian artists and western art styles -- some years back, my father ran the policy shop for the UN negotiators at Panmunjom. There were various painters there who would do either live portraits or work from photographs. Dad went to one painter popular with his co-workers and had a portrait of Mom done from a photo while sitting for another. There was a lot of puzzlement around our house when these paintings arrived. Mom's picture was great, but Dad looked strange. At first we thought he simply had been portrayed a bit more Korean than necessary (he was a fourth generation Texas native) but as the years went by, it just looked stranger. Sort of my father as a Klingon -- in an Air Force uniform of course.

MikeB @ 40 -- I agree with you about the inadequacy of Vermeer prints once you have seen the originals. The strongest experience like that for me was about 15 years ago the one time I have been able to visit the Tate (now apparently Tate Britain). The collection had just been rehung and it was a bit disorienting, between the crowds and the difficulty knowing what was where.

When I studied 20th Century art, I had seen many reproductions of Jackson Pollock paintings (including some very high quality slides, which often are better than prints). I thought I appreciated what was going on, but on the whole preferred Clyfford Still. I walked into one room, and Summertime: Number 9A covered one entire wall. I had studied that painting in some detail through large prints and detail shots, but the real painting hit me like a hammer in the middle of the forehead. The ability to move from a variety of full views of the work to right up close examing detail and color made so much difference. (I love British museums -- you can often get much closer.) I can't say that I "like" Pollock any more, whatever that might mean, but now my respect for him and is work is immense.

And Thomas Kincade can . . . well, I don't plan to be in Carmel any time soon. It's time to release your doo-dahs on him, Teresa.

#53 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 02:20 PM:

#48, the different parts, heads and eyes and hands and hair, often don't seem to match for scale.

For instance, the two pictures on the third row. There's a child-hand and an adult head. While the right-hand picture: just look at the alignment of the eye-corners.

Trouble is, when you look furhter on the site, it turns out that these are photographs of children, and products of theb whole child beauty pageant thing. Which is creepy. I still suspect photo re-touching, but these are real kids.

And a very fake image.

#54 ::: Matt Ruff ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 02:28 PM:

For yet another option, there's the assemble-it-yourself version of Panini:

#55 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Ah, Kincaid. I have good memories seeded by his art.
When I was a kid my mom would take us to Carmel*. We'd wander galleries, contemplating the art. I think I wasn't even 10 years old when it hit me: I strongly disliked Kincaid's paintings. When I told this to my mom, she told me she disliked it too, and we had a nice talk about art prices. Learning that I could have ordinary conversations with adults- that was a new thing to me, so the memory stayed with me. Thanks, Kincaid.

NelC @38- Kincaid and copyright-

You may be remembering news stories about political art that contained Kincaid parodies. "To critics, the show is anti-American, anti-Christian and anti-capitalism, not to mention obscene, blasphemous and maybe even seditious." Jos Sances' exhibit received plenty of news coverage back in 2002.

This page has two of his Kincaid parodies.

Teresa @4
Please please please please please oh, oh, oh please. Please?

* a gallery-and-tourist filled quaint town 2 hours south of San Francisco. Worth a stop in itself as well as for being the northern start/endpoint for the always stunning Big Sur coastal drive.

#56 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:07 PM:

Rob Rusick said (#46):
Peter @45: Reading this topic (Chinese painters copying Western art), I was reminded of how Japanese prints were said to have inspired the impressionists, and Van Gogh in particular. At the time, wadded-up prints had been used as packing material for objects shipped from Japan.

And it wasn't even the first round of inspiration! The prints by Hokusai, Hiroshige, et al. that van Gogh and other European artists were fascinated by were themselves partly the product of Japanese fascination with European art of the previous centuries (as mentioned, e.g., here or here).

This page on Hokusai notes that copperplate etchings of Dutch landscapes were one of the main sources of inspiration for late-18th and early-19th Century Japanese artists. It goes on to add

By the late 1700s, these Dutch paintings had become so common that the etchings were used as cheap illustrations. Dutch merchants smuggled their goods into Japan. These wares were often wrapped in paper that had been illustrated with these etchings. For Hokusai and other artists, the thrown-away wrappers were more interesting than the imports.
which is so eerily similar to your point that I'm not sure I believe it...

It has been suggested that the most interesting and dynamic art comes about when different cultures make contact....

I'm certainly inclined to agree with you.

#57 ::: Karen Sideman ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Copying masterworks has a different weight and meaning within Chinese artmaking tradition. A narrower field of subject matter and formal approaches were considered appropriate for artists (than in the west) and the same views and compositional structures were revisited again and again for centuries. Originality and self expression were encouraged at the level of the brushstroke and compostional flourish. A student would spend years learning by copying the works of his master and would come into his own later by refining and reinvigorating those same images at the detail level. Many famous and beloved masterworks in this tradition are things westerners might consider “copies” of each other.

I’d like to belive that the wacky translation of the Panini might be the artist asserting his masterly originality at this level.

#58 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 06:26 PM:

I guess this is the wrong place to confess that I, um, kind of liked Kinkade's work when I first saw it?

Thought so.

(Don't kill me, I got over it.)

#59 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Several of my relatives have been competing for the past few years to see who can inflict the worst Christmas present on me - what will cause me to wince, shudder, and expostulate on esthetic offenses the most. "Irish" kitsch has figured prominently in these offerings. This year's winner was the Irish Santa with the Thomas Kinkade painting on his robe. It is horrible. They were considerably amused.

#60 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 07:15 PM:

G. Jules, #41, those are extensively photoshopped. Most notably, the lights in the eyes.

#61 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Oh, lord, Kinkade...I get the urge to do a parody whenever his stuff comes up, but I can't really justify spending all that energy just to inflict "Happy Cottage of Light About to be Assaulted by Happy Ravening Orcish Hordes" upon the world.

And in addition to his crimes against aesthetics, the man publically urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh!*

I mean, there are limits!

(Well, so the LA Times claims. I wasn't there or anything...)

#62 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:28 PM:

@41 - That one reminded me of this (which was linked off this recent comment thread over at Pandagon).

I don't know what on earth possesses people to photoshop perfectly cute pictures of toddlers into these monstrosities.

#63 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:32 PM:

Re: #41 ::: G. Jules :
"...Something about them adds up to a bone-deep feeling of wrong."

Yup. Too horrible for me to look carefully at, but first stop is that the perfectly good eyes (too perfect, photoshopped most likely) simply don't belong in those faces or go with those expressions (such as they are).

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:48 PM:

Thena 62: I agree. If they want a picture of a doll, why wouldn't they just buy a doll and take a picture of it? That horror looks nothing like the cute little girl they started with.

#65 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 08:48 PM:

The Doll-Eyes, they burn! And the perfect note of unintended irony on the price list. "A brilliant, crisp 4 x 6 image can make a nice 8 x 10. But please keep realistic expectations."

#66 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:06 PM:

Re the link from Thena @ #62: is it my imagination or do the highlights in the pupils look like sets of teeth?

#67 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:49 PM:

D. Eppstein, when it happens commercially, I suspect subtle* sabotage is what you get when you have bored, resentful, creative people forced to perform acts they find heinous. You know, like when the bouncy theme music in a major cruise line ad on TV is an Iggy Pop song.

* For values of.

#68 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 09:53 PM:

#41, the first thing I thought was that those were "Real Dolls" (the lifelike sex dolls).

Kansas City is apparently enough of a Kinkade market that we have a store in the Country Club Plaza, our most chichi shopping area. Never been in it since the art makes me barf.

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2007, 11:44 PM:

#41: Those images are about 10% down the slippery slope into the Uncanny Valley.

#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Stefan Jones #69: The phrase that comes to mind is "Stepford Wives".

#71 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 02:21 AM:

G. Jules #41 --- Photos such as those and photoshop users such as her have been the topic of many a discussion on professional (and non-pro) photography boards.
I find that level of post production disgusting. To think that someone would acutally pay (and be happy) about having that done to their image is even more disturbing. This is what bothers me most. I've used PS for over three years now. I did shoots in Hawaii for less than what she's charging in Georgia. While my hourly fee for digital work probably exceeds her charge rate for a retouch on an 8x11 (especially understanding the process of what she's doing---and what little it takes to ruin a photo in PS)---I specialize in photo restoration, which generally takes a lot longer time to rebuild vice destroy an image.
I'm too disgusted to type about this anymore. Blech.

#72 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 03:39 AM:

Stefan #24: We rented a house in Carmel for a couple of years in the mid-'80s, from an artist and his wife. One of my memories of him (perhaps because I remember my father repeating it later) was the way he tended to spit out Kincaid's name rather than merely saying it, when the subject came up.

About that time, he was sort of finishing up a series of paintings of the beach occupied by lots and lots of little tiny (on the canvas, I mean) people, and in the middle of a phase of painting various arrangements of oranges, clouds, and orange-shaped holes in the clouds.

Kincade, of course, was painting almost exactly the same thing then as he's painting now.

Pixelfish #36: I can't remember where I saw a reference to someone as "painter of light" from the 1960s or so, but it was definitely being used as a title, and it wasn't for Kinkade.

#73 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 03:52 AM:

Scary; I found that Miis on a Wii looked both more realistic and nicer than the second image.

There is something seriously wrong with a system of aesthetica that takes nice enough girls and turns them into grimacing devil-children, and counts it an achievement.

Why not leave the child out of it, and just use Poser models to start with? It'll save on therapy.

Of course, this is one area where getting someone to do a nice sketch or painting from the original'd work. There must be starving young artists out there willing to do something like that, no?

#74 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 04:37 AM:

When my nephew was born, my brother wanted to give him a name from David James Duncan's The Brothers K. The protagonist of the book is named Kincaid, but thanks to Mr. Painter of Light, the child is Everett instead.

And chalk me up as someone else: a) who finds those photos intensely creepy (the phrase "Uncanny Valley" came to me too) and b) wants to read Teresa's demolition.

#75 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 05:52 AM:

Kinkade fascinates me as you might be fascinated by poison rat lice. It's astonishing just how much crapness, of how many kinds, he packs in - like some sort of essence of anti-art. I recall someone on the NANOG list using the word "pessimised" by analogy to "optimised", ("Someone seems to have carefully pessimised this network") and I think it goes well here.

And then, as pointed out upthread, there's the shonky just-shy-of-a-pyramid-scheme affiliate sales stuff, the layers of copyists, the politics.

But the scary thing is that people buy this shit. Lots of them. And they buy LOTS of it. Clearly, though it is just about pessimal by any artistic criterion, it's an optimal solution for some group of the population.

I suspect that the distribution of sales is highly leptokurtotic, i.e. opposite of the long tail - and I also suspect that membership of the residual 27 per cent of Bush supporters and multiple Kincade ownership is highly correlated.

#76 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:10 AM:

aconite, waay way up there:

In a previous life when I was an art student, family members would tell me that maybe someday I'd be as good as Bob Ross. The idea tempted me to throw myself from a bridge more than any adolescent breakup ever had.

funny, in my art school years, (uh, last year & the two preceding) bob ross was ironically embraced, as a rebellion against those who were training us to be fine artistes on the lofty intellectual vanguard. i saw more than a few che-guevara-fied bob ross t-shirts on campus....

& on the subject of painted copies of paintings: my strongest memory from a day trip down to the tourist trap area of tijuana were the frida kahlo paintings for sale in many shops: they were painted copies, & i could easily believe they were the same scale & media she used (she painted pretty small, & mostly on masonite, mimicking folk art. which is now mimicking her right back). & i'm also sure these were handmade & not giclees or nothing.

i was too weirded out, as a nice western arty kid raised in the cult of authenticity, to buy one. but i think kahlo would have approved.

#77 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 08:37 AM:

I am no artist. I know nothing about it whatever, and I'm damned if I know what I like, either, but those photographs gave me the same cold creeping feeling as when I heard that one of the largest-selling fantasy series of our time is that truly barking-mad series of books about the rapture.

I mean, I read SF. I'm supposed to be familiar and comfortable with the alien, but I reflect on the minds of the people who would actually want something like that hanging on their wall, and I shudder. Never mind the Universe, it's people that are stranger than we think, and stranger than we can think.

#78 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 12:23 PM:

In another forum which I frequent, a common expletive is "Jesus with a lighthouse!" If you have seen the sculptures of Thomas Kinkade, you know where it comes from.

#79 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Lizzy, #42: The Frick is terrific, one of the highest-quality small museums anywhere. Practically everything is worth looking at and you can do the whole place in a day.

Also, they have this painting of Young Dragaerans At Play. For some reason they give it a different title, but we know better.

#80 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:19 PM:

I hadn't known that Kincaid lived in California (thinking that he was busy defiling some particularly touristy part of New England instead). Yech! Carmel should -- as a collective entity -- spit him out and let the sharks have him. With their poor eyesight, they might find him tasty.

The discussion of art reproductions in general led toward a vague idea that it would make an interesting topic for an SF story: a (misguided? insane? profitable?) quest for the perfect copy/virtual image of famous artwork, e.g. "Your own Van Gogh".

#81 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Some of the new high-density neighborhoods, west of Portland, were designed in part by focus group. Walking through them, I sometimes had the feeling of being a Thomas Kinkade painting. Gulp!

#82 ::: Columbine ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Re #32: I am also perplexed by The Painting You Don't Want On Your Wall, especially since my brain is telling me I've seen the original somewhere. It's not decayed enough to be Ivan Albright and it's not serene enough to be Edward Hopper.

#83 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Alex #75, re your supposed connection between Kinkade afficianados and Bush supporters: you've seen this rant from 2004 on the connection between Kinkade's artistic shallowness and conservatism, right?

#84 ::: Siena ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Something Awful has taken a few shots at Kincaid, which resulted in some amusement:

here, and here.

Some of them are very subtle - I had to squint to see the hanged man dangling from the front porch of one of the pretty little cottages.

#85 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 03:11 PM:

I just remembered what those Stepford children remind me of. You may have heard of the RealDoll produced by Abyss Creations, which is an expensive and somewhat realistic sex doll. From the photos I guess Abyss do a good job, though they're on the sunlit upper slopes of the uncanny valley to me. But as well as their more-or-less accurately modelled dolls, they also produce one whose proportions are more cartoony, the "Anna-Mae" ("anime", geddit?). Here's a picture, which I guess is SFW. Ignoring its improbable, nay, impossible bust, the face looks very similar to the Stepford Kids', I think.

#86 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Siena - heh, beat you to it. Look up-thread a bit. My favorite is on page 3 of the second batch, in which the explanation for the intense glow inside that damned little cottage is revealed as a blazing house fire.

#87 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 05:00 PM:

78: Sculptures? No. Surely not. You mean...there is worse?

#88 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 05:59 PM:

#72 "We rented a house in Carmel for a couple of years in the mid-'80s"

You know the Peter Rabbit themed gift shop downtown?

My great aunt and her daughter ran that. Just shut down after twenty-something years.

#81: "Some of the new high-density neighborhoods, west of Portland, were designed in part by focus group."

Which ones? There's a high-density neighborhood nearby, but there's far too much stucco to look Kinkadish.

#89 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:22 PM:

I'm lost here, because there are too many comments to read (and the original article sparked off this thought), but why bother going overseas for copies of old masters, etc. when I know people in Montreal who will do it for you? Their basements (so I've heard) are full of copies, "for practice," but of course they'd never try to pass them off.

Just like the shopping-mall promotion robot builder I met in the 1980s, who had a pristine replica of R2-D2 in his basement, but couldn't bring it out, for fear of copyright violations.

Mind you, most of these are bar stories. Still fun, like what really happened to Dag Hammerskjold (head man in the U.N.) in the 1950s.

#90 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 06:48 PM:

#85, NelC, if that's an attempt at an anime look, it's hard to see how it could be more wrong.

Though this anime music video doesn't show more than a few frames of the classic Gainax bounce, that Anna Mae model goes beyond any sane exaggeration.

#91 ::: Robin Catesby ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 07:08 PM:

I have mentioned Chinese Panini to my chef husband. I figure if he can pull of "Naanizza," he can tackle this one. He's now talking about a half-rice flour dough, Chinese cured ham and plum-based aoili.

Law & Order:CI had a ripped-from-the-headlines episode a while back in which their thinly-veiled Kinkade clone transformed from money-grubbing hack to manipulative, murdering scumbag. I freely admit to watching the ep with a wide smile on my face, content in the knowledge that the L&O writers clearly despise Kinkade as much as I do.

#92 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Some years ago there was a report aired on the local NPR affiliate (was it on This American Life?) about a book that came out in the 60's that had been done by a mother-daughter team: the daughter would get herself made up as a doll and sit with the rest of the toys and the mother would take pictures. Can't remember the details outside of the daughter having gone off the rails after the mother died and the books being long out of print--but when I mentioned it to a book collector I know he said "Oh, yeah, I've got those. Wanna see?" I turned him down, but the descriptions of the Stepford kids sounds similar...

#93 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 10:41 PM:

#88, Steffan: Orenco Station. I was thinking more of the reaction I had standing in the street; I don't recall the houses as looking particular Kincaidish--there was this feeling, though, of walking through someone's comforting fantasy. Perhaps, come to think of it, that's actually appropriate for houses, but it makes me uncomfortable.

#94 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2007, 11:47 PM:

#93: I live about two blocks from Orenco Station! The aformentioned stucco houses are there.

Perhaps because it's the place where my dog takes her dumps, I've never seen it as particularly fantastic. Definitely sheltered-upscale, though.

Now, there is something odd about the faux brownstones in the "downtown" area. There's a "dropped from orbit" look and feel to them, and retail establishments are all way upscale.

#95 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Creepiness aside, the Kinkade and photoshoped images analogy is spot-on.

#96 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 12:52 AM:

#94, Stefan: they do have that "dropped from orbit" feeling, don't they? It looks to me like the developer didn't really know what kind of building to ask for, so the designers and builders were shooting in the dark; they did these vaguely "traditional" things--which is to say, buildings that don't look like anything else in the area. I have the impression that people who live there actually drive to the nearby Winco and Safeway to do their shopping; the "downtown" area is more boutique shops, though fairly practical boutique shops. I've taken to calling the area the National Laboratory for New Urbanism. Problem is that no-one really knows what to build, yet.

#97 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 01:31 AM:

#96: There is a fairly nice supermarket in Orenco, but it's so upscale that I imagine most folks do go elsewhere to do the bulk of their shopping. Like The World's Largest Costco, a mile down the road.

I do see some encouraging things "downtown:"

Lots of pedestrians.

While walking the dog last summer, I saw a bunch of residents sitting on their stoops talking to passersby. Genuine and charming neighborhood interaction.

And there's a good farmer's market there during the summer.

#98 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 08:23 AM:

This strikes me as a field where mechanisation would be both interesting and socially useful, though I admit I'm the kind of person who, on visiting a marble-carving workshop in India, leaves thanking Athena (and thinking maybe it should be Ganesha) for the invention of the CNC mill so humans don't have to do that any more in properly-capitalised societies.

Inkjet onto plastic injection-molded into the shape of the front of the painting? I suppose milling a block of die steel into the inverse of Starry Night would be an interesting software exercise.

#99 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 08:54 AM:

"You have to wonder why a man who has six Mona Lisas would go through the trouble of stealing a seventh."

Oh I can think of some reasons why...
.... (mutters under breath: pervert)

#100 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Just read Kage Baker's "Standing in His Light", which appears in her Gods and Pawns. It's a good story, but it maligns Vermeer by suggesting that he couldn't have painted so "photorealistically" without a technical assist from a camera obscura, a theory that David Hockney has been pushing (although he plumps for the simpler camera lucida). Hockney is projecting (pun intended) based on his own lack of perspective (yet another). Vermeer was better than that, and like van Eyck (who has also been suspected of using optical aids), his photorealism is only apparent; one has only to look closely at The Art of Painting to realize that its perspectives are impossible -- and better than reality.

#101 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 08:06 PM:

One of the things I'm really enjoying about the way China is developing is that despite our pressure on them, they're doing so with almost no kind of copyright or patent enforcement.

It's really an interesting experiment and I hope they keep it up. I'm not saying the US copyright & patent system is all bad (not at all), but I'm fascinated with watching an alternative play out. I wonder if, 20 years from now, we might have a significant anti-IP movement based on retaining competitiveness with the Chinese. (Plus, if you're a developing country, skipping a hundred years of technological development by just copying the latest best thing has to be useful.)

Anyway I love these little artifacts like the paintings. Another good one is the text on the back of pirated Chinese DVDs (which I don't buy myself), which is sometimes copied from reviews (including ones panning the movie - think big blowup text saying "TEDIOUS NONSENSE!! - Roger Ebert"), or cobbled together from other movies, or seems to have gone through English-Chinese-English translation. But the best part are the logos and markings, which are ersatz copies of the originals but often with typos - but such nice graphic art! I imagine some hard-working kid with a copy of Illustrator painstakingly copying the curves of the DVD-ROM logo, say.

A friend also has some pirate copies of Computer Science textbooks - the text is in English, but the spine has both English and a Chinese translation. And her family (Caucasian), who live in Shanghai, had copies of various famous paintings done with their heads substituted for the originals - she has an Andy Warhol copy that is hilarious.

Anyway, more likely China will move to a Western-style copyright system with effective enforcement in the end. My step-father had a pirate copy of an American dictionary that was made in Japan in the 60s or 70s, and I think I'm remembering right to say that they had similar levels of copying in industry & art during their period of development last century, and they seem to have a fairly normal and working copyright system now.

#102 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Bryan @99: You are thinking of the Bob Shaw short story?

#103 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Randolph @ 96, Stefan @ 97 - I went over to flickr and looked up some photos of Orenco Station and it seems pleasant enough, and even features a few distance shots of the plane crash Stefan mentioned last summer.

Sure, it's Little Lifestyle City in the Suburbs, but it also looks like someplace I could see living. And it's on the Light Rail.

#104 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2007, 11:59 PM:

The light rail station is a wonderful convenience. I don't think as many residents use it to commute as was envisioned, but a lot of Intel employees commute too the station and catch a shuttle bus to the ginormous factory to the north of Orenco.

(FYIage: Orenco = Oregon Nursery Company, a long-defunct tree and shrub grower. The old factory village of Orenco is across the tracks and down the road a bit.)

I don't care for the particular style of upscale cookie-cutter stucco architecture of Orenco Station neighborhood behind the faux, but besides the copious greenspace there's one thing I love about the place:

It has ALLEYS.

Real honest to goodness alleys lined with garages and garbage cans.

#105 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 05:36 AM:

Jacob Davies said (#101):
One of the things I'm really enjoying about the way China is developing is that despite our pressure on them, they're doing so with almost no kind of copyright or patent enforcement.

That's not too different from the US in the 19th Century, as I understand it. US copyright law applied only to US authors and artists; foreign works were not covered, and could be freely copied.

(Of course, most of those paintings that this particular Chinese outfit is copying aren't under copyright at all.)

#106 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 02:15 PM:

A year or two ago there was an exhibition in the Stewart Museum in the Fort on Ile Ste Helene of Chinese porcelain imported to France before the Revolution. We went to see it with Jon Singer. Singer was naturally most interested in the colours and the textures of the glazes, but what really fascinated me were the examples of European pictures copied by Chinese artists onto the pots of export. In some cases they had the original print beside the decorated plate or bowl.

One of the most interesting had a white woman sitting with her feet in a bowl into which a black pageboy was pouring a ewer of water. In the copy, both were Chinese, and there was an air of sexual complicity that was completely absent in the original. In another a slightly odd sheep had been transformed into a monkey. There was also the Sun King as a Mandarin, and a set of splendidly decadent plates ordered just before the Revolution whose intended owner was regrettably headless and unable to appreciate them by their arrival.

#107 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 06:32 PM:
You know the Peter Rabbit themed gift shop downtown?

My great aunt and her daughter ran that. Just shut down after twenty-something years.

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that! My mom took me shopping there a month or so before my oldest son was born--bought him some absolutely darling Euro-style outfits (powder blue and much-besmocked, if memory serves) which I think he might have worn once each before descending into the sartorial jeans-and-hoodie abyss wherein he still resides. (There's just something precious about a 7YO in a Mr. Bungle t-shirt.)

Anyway, that was an absolutely delightful store and I'm sorry to hear it's gone.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 06:46 PM:

#107: I'll send your comments to my great aunt. She'll appreciate it!

#109 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Larry & Stefan, 97, 103, 104--

Stefan, that's really interesting. My sense of Orenco Station is that the urban design is actually better than the design of the individual buildings--it does seem to be achieving the New Urbanist goal of engendering a sense of neighborhood. Oregon has a very gentle climate and I think making more use of the outside as a social space is healthy.

Larry, the problem is the light rail doesn't actually go much of anywhere but downtown--I commuted on it briefly--, and that's a 40-minute ride. There's some stuff in Beaverton, but the best westside mall is a good bus ride away from the station. Part of the area's planning is to create a series of neighborhoods along the rail system, but, like the trees, that hasn't matured yet.

Overall, I think neighborhoods like Orenco Station probably work better if there were a local streetcar--that allows for the creation of linear business districts--as well as the commuter-rail scale MAX, but getting the good citizens to pay for that would be, hmmm, interesting.

#110 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 09:26 AM:

"Bryan @99: You are thinking of the Bob Shaw short story?"

no, I was thinking of Groundhog Day.

#111 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:33 AM:

"Bryan @99: You are thinking of the Bob Shaw short story?"

no, I was thinking of Groundhog Day.

The Bob Shaw short story (The Giaconda Caper) had the Mona Lisa as the first frame in a DaVinci porno 'flip book' (hence multiple Mona Lisas, in this case each slightly different).

Evelyn Browne @19 got my original reference, the Douglas Adams Doctor Who script City of Death*, which had a time-displaced villain commissioning 6 copies of the Mona Lisa from DaVinci, so he could salt them away and sell them to collectors after the original was stolen from the Lourve in the 20th century (each collector thinking he was getting the original).

I am a fan of Groundhog Day, but I don't see the connection. I'm sure it will make sense after you've explained it, as I hope my joke** makes sense after I've explained it. The best jokes are only appreciated after they have been explained...***

* One of my favorites. Eleanor Bron and John Cleese in a cameo appearance play a pair of pretentious art gallery patrons admiring the Tardis (parked in an art gallery) as a piece of afunctional art. Doug Adams was proud of the script; he recycled elements of it for his first 'Dirk Gently Holistic Dectective Agency' story.

** Inspired (if that is the appropriate word) by the idea of Chinese knock-offs of the 'Mona Lisa'.

*** Okay, I know that's not true, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it...

#112 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:56 AM:

in Groundhog day when Bill Murray kidnaps the groundhound Andie MacDowell says something like "Why would anyone kidnap a Groundhog" and Chris Elliot says something like "Well I can think of a couple" and then under his breath "sicko" or "pervert" (can't remember), I basically just liked the joke, it wasn't a cross-referencing cultural homage or anything like that :)

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.