The art of Imitation: Bean and Bubble


By NewsGram Staff Writer

Anish Kapoor, a British-Indian sculptor has once again emerged in the headlines. Earlier, in June, he came into the limelight when one of his sculptures which he described as “the vagina of a queen taking power” was spray-painted by vandals. Now, he is again the talk of the town as the city of Karamay in Western China is all set to unveil a sculpture that looks similar to the 110-tonne stainless-steel structure ‘Cloud Gate’ situated in Chicago’s Millennium Park, which is also known as the bean.


The Mumbai-born British artist told Le Figaro, a French daily that this act of imitation is intolerable and is mainly due to political problems. The refusal on part of the Karamay city officials to disclose the name of the artist is another cause of his anger. Anish Kapoor sees this as a blatant act of plagiarism. Determined to seek justice and take the matter to the court, he said, “In China today it is permissible to steal the creativity of others”.

He is hopeful to get support from mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, in his pursuit of justice, though Emanuel had a distinct view of the Karamay sculpture – “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and if you want to see original artwork… you come to Chicago”.

The American copyright law says that in visual and other forms of art, a copy of an artwork comes under the infringement of the copyright act. Also, using the elements of others’ copyrighted work can be permitted as ‘fair use’ even though determining the extent of ‘fair use’ is complicated. However, as a prerequisite condition, one should take permission from the artist before borrowing from his art or at least admit and give due credit to the artist.

The defenders say that the Karamay sculpture – ‘Big Oil Bubble’ is inspired by the city’s natural oil well and any resemblance to the ‘Bean’ might just be a coincidence.


(With inputs from The Economist)