The Bean in Chicago or China?
Chicago, Illinois holds the Cloud Gate, or as we most commonly refer to it as The Bean. This bean shape mirror, created by Anish Kapoor, is located in the center of Millennium Park and is a popular tourist attraction. On the other side of the world in Karamay, China, holds a sculpture that closely resembles the bean, and I mean way too close. To think that somewhere as strict as China would plagiarize something, especially from the United States, is insane. Plagiarism is not taken lately anywhere, especially in the art world. Anish Kapoor is suing the Chinese government for plagiarism of the bean. The reason The Cloud Gate is called the bean is because this giant block of stainless steel is bean shaped. The sculpture built in China resembles a bean with a few extra lumps underneath. A spokesperson for a tourism bureau in China defended the artist to say that the Chinese sculpture “looks like an oil bubble” and Anish Kapoor’s “looks like a bean.” He went on to say that the meanings were also different making them completely different works of art. The Chinese sculpture represents the oil bubbles from the Black Oil Mountain and reflects the ground whereas the Cloud Gate reflects the sky. His final argument was that they are not allowed to sue because that would be like saying they can’t make a round sculpture since there are already round sculptures made. He stated that imitation is the greatest form of flattery but Anish Kapoor was livid that he would consider it flattery instead of plagiarism. I think they are too similar and this is a really tricky case of possible plagiarism. The Chinese spokesperson has a strong point regarding meaning and allowing to build certain works of art, but these are awfully close to not consider plagiarism. I want to specifically focus on one part of his argument- the idea that someone couldn’t make a round sculpture because there are already round sculptures. I would think it would be hard to not at least base you artwork off of someone else’s ideas. Then how would you know where to even start or what your style of artistry is? Everything can and should be tweaked for each artist’s individualism though. But then if we take his argument and apply it to other forms of art such as novels, then couldn’t those be arguably plagiarism? If you think about it, each novel has words that are composed of only 26 letters. If those authors have copyrights to their books, do they have copyrights to those words in that order? This does seem a little far-fetched, I understand, but there seems to be so many loopholes and analogies to easily argue both sides. Copyrights are placed specifically to allow the artists to completely own their work and get credit for their creations. Anish Kapoor’s copyright over his sculpture prevents artists from plagiarizing his work. The only problem with copyright is that it is hard to translate internationally. Not all laws in the United States are the same as other countries. American publishers used to be able to publish foreign works as their own because it didn’t technically violate any rules. But in more recent times, copyright has become even stricter where this should not matter. Ownership and copyright mean those artists are entitled to their works. Plagiarism is illegal in the eyes of law regardless of location.
Living in a time that is constantly advancing in technology, it is hard to not plagiarize. Protecting artists’ valued creations and allowing the art world to grow is hard to balance. With the rise of the Internet, it makes it even harder to protect copyrighted work. Anyone can see something and bounce off of it without people knowing they plagiarized and without the artist knowing their work has been used and manipulated. Copyright should prevent this, but it is hard to regulate, especially across waters. I agree with Anish Kapoor and support him suing for copyright of his creation. The artist who created the sculpture in China is left unnamed, and probably for his safety and good reason. The Bean is such a statement piece for Chicago, it would be a shame to see someone copyright it somewhere else. To review the entire article: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/anish-kapoor-sues-china-bean-sculpture-324704