Jonathan T.D. Neil on derivatives and value in art

from the Summer 2014 issue

By Jonathan T.D. Neil

Dan Colen, Boo Fuck’n Hoo, 2006. Sold at Christie’s, 12 May 2014, New York for $3,077,000, a world auction record for the artist

Not so long ago, deeming a work of art ‘derivative’ meant it was unoriginal, that its moves were too easily recognised in other, more significant work, often by older, more established artists. It was an easy putdown, and a defensive one too. Dissing something as ‘derivative’ was rarely followed by the question, ‘Of what?’ If you had to ask, then you were exposing your own lack of knowledge of the field. Best to nod the head and offer your coerced…

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