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The business of copying art

Img_0242 At the Dafen art village, across the border from Hong Kong in Shenzhen, assembly line artists sit before easels and reproduce just about any Old World or contemporary masterpiece. Buyers pay a pittance, and get the reproduction at whatever dimensions they want. 

I did a story on the art village about a year ago. You can YouTube a short video of the village here.

Turns out the Dafen artists are going global. An art gallery in Zurich, Switzerland, is now advertising an alliance with the art village in which buyers can turn up at the gallery with an image of what they want reproduced. In a few short weeks, they get the reproduction. Cost: Roughly $450-$900, frame included, according to this blog.

Swiss artists are not happy. They say the gallery needs to get permission from the artists or their representatives. Of course, most famous artists are already dead. The gallery’s owner says what he’s doing is completely legal.

Here’s the website for the Dafen village enterprises (in rather fractured English).


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Marvin L Foushee


This site seemed to cater to the wholesale customer. Orders of less than 50, not accepted. Prices are wholesale as well, in the $250 dollar range.

Marvin L Foushee

If you don't mimic the brushstokes and don't sign the artist's name on the masterpiece, the copied is very legal. But the issue remains: why would anyone put money up front for a painting that is not in the hand of the purchaser? Van Gogh's art for the most part is pretty psychotic. One in five of his painting qualifies as a masterpiece, so why don't these master copiers of masterpieces just sell the copied works of the masters for a thousand dollars or two for a good imitation of masterpiece art? There is something fishy going on, that is the truth. I met an Chinese artist in the United States, and he complained about the Communists. They said that the Party taxed him. For every three pictures that he painted, the party took one. They sent him all over China, for free, to paint and enjoy the scenery, and the party charged him 30 percent of his collection to send into the National Gallary of folk artists of the nation.

Qi Baishi would roll over in his grave. The capitalist tax barons of central party planning taxing your art work:
How vulgar and bourgois.

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