The artist isn't always the one who puts the paint on the canvas

- Just because it says it's a Rembrandt, doesn't mean it's always a Rembrandt.  Once in a while artists will put their name on paintings or sculptures even though someone else held the chisel or brush.

It's a secret that's not really a secret at all.

For a notable example, take the iconic Minneapolis art work "Spoonbridge and Cherry" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

"Oldenburg was the one who conceived of the spoon and his wife and collaborator Coosje van Bruggen thought of the cherry," said the Walker Art Center’s curator Siri Engberg.

While Oldenburg and van Bruggen thought up the design, there was a team of builders who constructed the sculpture that were given no formal credit. For the general public, it's a revelation that makes sense for large sculptures and outdoor pieces, but for paintings and smaller works, it can sometimes be hard to understand.

According to Engberg, many works of art bear the names of conceptual creators but not the actual constructors.

“Mappa” by Aligheiro Boetti hangs in the art center's gallery. The work consists of flags stitched together to form countries on a colorful map; but while Boetti came up with the concept, his hands never touched the map.

Art historians will tell you it's nothing new, and at the end of the day it's the creator of the concept, not necessarily the holder of the brush, that gets the credit.


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