In addition to yesterday’s products (whose packaging deliberately conflates the words, “gun” and “gum”) are the sculptures above.
I was already familiar with Robert Pruitt’s Bubble Gun-M16. An automatic weapon, completely covered with multicolored, already-been-chewed gum. I saw this as a reference to camouflage, but it also reminded me of one of Jasper Johns encaustic, all-over-patterns.
When I saw these photos of other automatic weapons, also covered in multicolored, a.b.c. gum, I figured they were additional “Bubble Gun” sculptures that were also made by Pruitt… but they were not!
They were Seyo Cizmic’s “Chewing Gun” sculptures that were apparently made 14 years earlier than Pruitt’s “Bubble Gun.”
(Another pair of parallel artworks, after the fold…)
Here again, I was already familiar with Pruitt’s sculpture, “Glass Slippers” which was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial.
Cizmic’s “Refugees’ Shoes” from 1997—also covered in the broken glass of brown beer bottles—were new to me.
The artworks are close enough in concept and execution, that one might be forgiven for assuming that someone is guilty of creative theft. But, when so much conceptual art is based on wordplay and popular culture, it’s small wonder that artists with divergent backgrounds will, on occasion, create very similar artworks.
And yet, the potential for confusion (among consumers of conceptual art) is palpable.
Artist’s statement from Robert Pruitt’s website:
“Robert Pruitt is an artist living and working in Houston TX. He makes drawings and sculptures about the complexity of black identity by combining contrasting signs and imagery of disparate Black influences and aesthetics. He layers Science Fiction, Hip Hop, comic books, and black political and social struggles into layered portraits of his friends and community.”
Seyo Cizmic’s bio & artist’s statement:
Seyo Cizmic is an internationally recognized artist, living in San Diego, California. He was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1958. He studied art at University of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he earned his Masters degree in Fine Arts in 1986, specializing in painting.
“My current body of work is focused on creating artwork that will both inform and entertain the viewer through images of our everyday experiences. I believe every person has a story to tell, and I attempt to capture that story in the space all stories reveal themselves. My work is playful yet serious – it is influenced by the images and iconography from popular, contemporary culture, including advertising, music, television and magazines.”
Also: from an article about an exhibition of Bosnian art that included an artwork by Cizmic…
While “Bosnian Born” is intended to celebrate the human spirit, the artists acknowledge that they have been shaped by the war. “I still remember the smell of blood in the air,” said Cizmic. “I know that influenced me for sure.’’
Exhibit celebrates creativity and talent in Bosnia, Omar Sacirbey, The Boston Globe, December 11, 2012
(For more conceptual art and consumer confusion, see: Campbell’s Spray Paint Cans)