Classical RipsPicasso famously said that great artists don’t borrow: they steal. Though rarely done anymore, most artists of the past actively studied and copied other artists’ work. I spent three lovely years doing this myself part-time at the Louvre as part of my education. It truly was like detective work, figuring out how what made these paintings so great. Who really were these ancestors of ours— both the painter and the painted?
Later, I used these works for digressions of my own, moving farther and farther away from the original source. I tried to extract from the original what I most treasured, and edited out the rest. This might be called ‘Referential Art’ in its purest form.