My "Out of the Box' series in black and white is above left. Whitfield Lovell's portraits (MacArthur Fellow) are right. I was not aware of his portraits, which I LOVE, when I started painting my "Survivor Spirits" (former slaves, example below) in 2003 and later the photos from the W.E.B. DuBois Paris Exposition of 1900, also several years ago. The images were available to anyone who reads books. Whitfield and I had access to the same material and had a similar idea to make paintings from these historic images! I painted the same woman Lovell did, (on the bottom of his 3 portraits); I painted her to her waist on left (below) and an earlier version of her head on right (below). He flipped the photo. I have been painting historic figures since I was a college student.
Wouldn't you be flattered? Should the artist who has been influenced by your work acknowledge it?
Or is it possible you and the other artist were BOTH influenced by someone or something like Whitfield Lovell and me!
HOW ABOUT THESE Possibilities??????????
ART SCHOOL: Art schools teach, pretty much, the same information. Beginning artists see the same art works. A teaching tool art schools use is having students actually copy original art works. In just about all cases students are shown examples of the work they are expected to paint, draw, sculpt, etc. Students also witness demonstrations by their professors. I know my students do. So right away the teachers of art provide students with materials that they will incorporate into their own work.
GALLERIES, Museums, Books: We all look at art. Sometimes we use elements consciously, sometimes not.
ARTIST FRIENDS: Your friend's work is there for you to see it. Artists absorb what they see.
ART TRENDS: Artists sometimes adhere to a "school" or style that is prevalent and popular. The school may suggest that you use certain elements that will make adherent's works look similar in some ways.
TECHNOLOGY: New inventions attract artists and many tend to use them similarly because inherent limitations, as well as the technological possibilities, are built in. Picasso and Braque were probably also influenced by film as they developed Cubism. (and all the other stuff that brought in the previous new century, including flight. They adapted, as their nicknames, Wilbur and Orville, as in the Wright Brothers.)
TRADITION: Referencing previously done work is an art tradition. As Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso set out to create a new art form they did so by working almost identically, building on Paul Cezanne's approaches to art as well as their exposure to African art.
Each generation of artists builds on what went before them or reacts against it but have some relationship to the significant art that came before.
ART HISTORY: Artists revisit styles such as German Expression which came to America as Abstract Expressionism and later there was a Neo-expressionist movement.
No artist is an island. Each has a style unless he is a forger or lacks imagination! Whatever an artist does has the fingerprint of that artist. The line is the artists' line, etc . I think most artists want their work to be distinct.
If you agree that it is fine for artists to be influenced by, or work in the manner of, or participate in the school or style of other artists:
when does borrowing go too far!!!???