How Close Can You Come To Another Artist Without Copying Them? Covers by Tore Svensson

Article  /  CriticalThinking   Artists
Published: 05.05.2020
Tore Svensson Tore Svensson
Tore Svensson
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Tore Svensson. Brooch: Shape (Arp), 2019. Steel, paint. 7 x 7 x 0.15 cm. Photo by: Franz Karl. Tore Svensson
Brooch: Shape (Arp), 2019
Steel, paint
7 x 7 x 0.15 cm
Photo by: Franz Karl
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Tore Svensson talks about the development of his collection of 33 brooches for his first solo exhibition COVERS at Hannah Gallery Barcelona, where he deals in-depth with the topic of copying art. 
My starting point for this project has been about similarities in the work of many jewellery artists, is it a coincidence or is it simply copies of someone else's work?
How close can you come to another artist without copy him, who is entitled to a shape? Everyone can make a square but if you change the square a little, is it then unique?
There are many examples of artists and designers who use other artists work as a starting point for their own, like Andy Warhol in the painting “Flowers” which is based on a colour photograph of hibiscus flowers taken by Patricia Caulfield and published in Modern Photography magazine in June 1964.
A shape is a shape and should be free to use by anyone, the question is maybe more, why you use a certain shape. The idea, the concept is more untouchable.
Some jewellery artists are so strongly connected to a shape (Otto Kunzli - Mickey Mouse), that it is almost impossible for another jewellery artist to use it if they do not have a very strong idea about it. Mouse Pigg is, of course, a cartoon character and has been used in many artists' works, but in the art jewellery world, he is associated with Otto Kunzli.
Even a colour may be associated with an artist. The blue hue used by Yves Klein is perhaps the most well-known example. Anish Kapoor has the right as the only artist to use Vantablack in his works - that is, the colour that absorbs 99.96 per cent of all light that hits the painted surface. When artist Stuart Semple found out that Anish Kapoor had been given an exclusive contract with the producers of the colour Vantablack, he was furious. And has therefore created a new colour, an almost equal black colour and a colour that everyone can use, except for Anish Kapoor.
In jewellery, you have so many elements that can make a difference between two pieces: material, technique, colour, surface, pattern and ideas. But you can also come to close to another artist because of this. Some artists maybe invent a new technique, a pattern or a new way to make a surface, is it then free for anyone to use it? And who was first?
The Lake-project, which I have been busy with for some year can also be seen as using existing shapes as I take the shape from Google Maps. I copy a lake, print it out and make a brooch in steel from it.
Last time when I was in New York I visited Whitney Museum and saw a great exhibition from the American artist Mary Corse. I took photos from some of the painting and later I used them for my project. I made my first brooches for the exhibition at Hannah Gallery.
Miro has always been one of my favourite artists, and as my exhibition will take place in Barcelona I thought I have to use his works too, I chose details from some of his paintings. I now start to look at some paintings with other eyes. I more looked for different shapes.

Brooch: K (Elsworth Kelly), 2019, Steel, paint, 6 x 10 x 0.15 cm, Photo by Franz Karl

I saw an exhibition of Vasarely in Paris this year and was surprised when I found shapes in his paintings that reminded about the mobiles from Calder. I could also find some Super ellipses, The superellipse (Lamé curve) is a shape between a square and an oval, invented by the French mathematician Gabriel Lamé 1795 - 1890. It is common in architecture and design, for example, used as tabletops. Now I have used the shape in some jewellery.
In the Summer Palace in Beijing, there is a long low building with a little more than 30 windows. Each window looks different. The frame in the wood was quite dominant. When I visited the place I took a photo from each window and later I sawed out the shapes in veneer, painted them in different colours and made brooches out of it. For this exhibition, I only used the inner part, the shape of the glass without the wooden frame.
The three first months this year, I had the possibility to work at ENSA in Limoges, France. I worked a lot with porcelain, as they have a fantastic studio for that. Among other things, I made The six Miro-brooches there.
When I worked with this project I only choose artists, art or design I like myself. I did not always felt comfortable when I used other artists work for my brooches, but I always tried to make something own out of it. It is more a tribute to this artist than making a copy of their art. My project develops more like that than giving an answer of what is allowed to do or not.
In music is it common that an artist makes an interpretation of a famous song where the result mostly is close to the original, a cover.

That's why I named my exhibition Covers.

About the author

Tore Svensson, born 1948 in Alfta, Sweden, studied first at the art-school in Gävle and graduated in 1978 at HDK School of Design and Craft, Gothenburg. From 1989 to 1996 he was a lecturer at HDK and afterwards he worked as a professor for two years at the Jewellery department. His work includes jewellery and objects and is presented in private and public collections as well as in museums and all over the world. He is a recipient of several awards, among others from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee and the Herbert Hofmann Prize.