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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 3:47 pm 
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By the way, I am not suggesting that the issue of credit has to be a complicated one in every single case. There could be very simple cases: I create a literati tree with 3 branches and I sell it so someone else. It is very clear that if the owner leaves the tree as it is, I can be called as the creator of the tree. Changing a branch or two will significantly alter the original design (since the tree had only 3 branches altogether), in which case the new owner takes credit.
This case is at the simplest side of the spectrum. But as the design gets more complex (the tree has 20 branches), and the tree is passed on from generation to generation (as it does in Japan with very old trees), it undergoes many changes due to accidental damage, horticultural reasons, winter freeze damage, or just because the new owner likes it that way. In this case, there are countless artistic visions involved, and they slowly fade away in the shroud of history. The tree becomes the result of a succession of changes, sometimes slow, sometimes drastic, and each change had an impact on how the tree looks today. The result of a long chain of events. This is very different from the American trees, relatively young in comparison to the above.
That's why I am saying that it has to be looked at case by case, and there is no one set answer to this.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 4:55 pm 
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Attila,
I believe this is covered with the statement, when the paint is scraped off the canvas, when the painting is painted over...when the new work is unrecognizable from the old.
Adding an additional flower to a work of Monet, doesn't change the artist, it simply ruins the new work. Adding a additional soup can to Warhol's work doesn't make it yours, it makes it your bastardization of his work.
There is a fine, but easily recognizable, line between maintaining, refining, or tweaking an existing piece of art and creating a new, never before seen piece of art.
To each scenario you have given above the answer remains the same, when the piece no longer is recognizable as the work by the previous artist, it is a new piece that can be attributed to the person who made it so....for better or for worse. BUT as long as that artist's vision remains in the tree, he created that vision, he should get credit for it. Simply pruning it or bending a single branch is not enough to make it yours any more than cleaning a Monet or adding a flower to it makes it your creation.
See the examples of major restorations in the article above, even though the Last Supper has had large portions painted over it, it is still not the creation of the restorers. Sorry, the credit remains with the creator. Now scrape the wall bare and paint a bunch of trees on it instead and it is your creation...

Will


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:28 pm 
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OK. Let's test the theory.
Who gets credit for the following bonsai that has been for 100 years in a bonsai pot? There were 10 different owners, and each owner did a slight change (around 10%). Today, the bonsai looks completely different from when it started 100 years ago. As I said ,each of the 10 owners did just a small change, but today the bonsai looks entirely different, compared to when it was with the 1st owner. That's because all those small changes added up to a major one.
Following the premise of the article, which of the 10 artists will take the credit for the current design.
(by the way, the above scenario can be a common occurrence with multi-generational bonsai).


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:27 pm 
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Attila Soos wrote:
OK. Let's test the theory.
Who gets credit for the following bonsai that has been for 100 years in a bonsai pot? There were 10 different owners, and each owner did a slight change (around 10%). Today, the bonsai looks completely different from when it started 100 years ago. As I said ,each of the 10 owners did just a small change, but today the bonsai looks entirely different, compared to when it was with the 1st owner. That's because all those small changes added up to a major one.
Following the premise of the article, which of the 10 artists will take the credit for the current design.
(by the way, the above scenario can be a common occurrence with multi-generational bonsai).

... an interesting observation Attila as were your previous comments. I also think that the term "artist" is used far too often, as was mentioned not all bonsais are work of art perse.
Let's take for example "Goshin". Goshin has undergone many transformations since it's inception. However, having said that, when one sees "Goshin" regardless of the degree of variation, "Goshin" is simply not mistaken for anything but "Goshin". The caretaker of Goshin will undoubtidly maintain the integrity ot it's creator.
We have very few multi-generational trees here in North America. Bonsai is in it's infancy when compared to Asia and the rest of the world. To further exacerbate our dilema, we tend to want to categorize everything, where, as can be seen in this discussion, nothing is further from the truth or just simply put, is not a simple task.
In Asia world class bonsais are maintained in their current state or original vision. It is a passion and an extremely rewarding endeavour of having the priviledge and honour, to maintain a bonsai into perpetuaty. The trees roots can be easily uncovered, as anecdotal evidence is kept and maintained.
On the other hand, we have talked about unfinished bonsais and, as was mentioned can be subjective indeed mixed into this discussion. We have classified what I consider juvenille bonsai as works of art, man I hate that word. We use these trees in comparison with Monet and Picasso etc... it's like comparing apples and oranges, not because of the two distinct dissimilarities but the youth of such creations. They have not even begun to stand the test of time.
To get back at the opening quote, no one. IIn Asia it is not a competition to be associated as the creator or caretaker of the tree, its majesty speaks for itself and, as previously mentioned the caretakers bow in humility before such majesty. To these enthusiasts it's not about who owns it or created it, but rather the great honour and opportunity bestowed upon them in taking care of a world class bonsai.
In closing it will be interesting to see the transformation of Walter's submission at K of B. What title will the tree hold then, will it be a Walter Pall tree?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:35 pm 
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Richard Moquin wrote:
[To get back at the opening quote, no one.

No one is probably a good answer. That's because if you wanted to give credit to all 10 owners, it would be a very long sentence, and noboty would wait to listen to the entirety of it.
Keeping a list of owners, with dates, would be enough to provide the tree with a good pedigree.
In cases like Goshin, or the Yamaki pine, it is absolutely appropriate to credit the donor with the creation of the tree, but this certainly doesn't apply to all bonsai of great age.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:19 pm 
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Another note, regarding the article: maintaining a bonsai vs. maintaining a painting.
I don't think that the comparison is fair. When restoring a famous painting, the restaurators have accurate and extensive guidelines to follow. They have detailed records, as to how the work should look like.
With bonsai, it is often necessary not just to maintain, but to re-do the whole thing. For instance, I have a bunch of elms, about 10 inch tall. If, in the middle of growing season I go for a 1-month vacation, the bonsai is basically needs to be found in the middle of a bush. If the maintenance was done by someone other than myself, the trees would look very different at the end of the season: the foliage pads would look different, the shape of the crown would look different, the distance between foliage clouds, ect. So, depending on who "maintains" those elms, the outcome would look different. It would simply be too difficult to make it look exactly the same.
With "The Last Supper", I don't think that the personality of the restaurateur matters too much, the end result should look the same no matter who does it.
Bonsai, unlike painting, is dynamic. It changes all the time. "Maintaining" is a constant job, and it is part of the creative process: we do not only maintain, but also improve. It improves ramification, it improves character, it keeps the tree healthy. The purpose of maintaining a statue is very different in scope. It's like comparing apples with oranges. Both are fruits, both are round, and both are sweet, but there are lots of differences as well. Just like driving a car vs. driving cattle.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:15 pm 
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Attila, We could make up imaginary scenarios all day long, but there is no need to, the world is full of old bonsai.
As mentioned, John Naka's Goshin has changed and been under the care of a few different people, but is will always be John Naka's creation. - https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/north_american.html
Masaru Yamaki's "Hiroshima Survivor" is a Japanese White Pine that has been around for generations before being donated to what is now the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. Countless caretakers have worked on this tree, they all have left a slight mark but the tree remains a creation of Masaru Yamaki. - https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/japanese2.html
Attila Soos wrote:
I don't think that the comparison is fair. When restoring a famous painting, the restaurators have accurate and extensive guidelines to follow. They have detailed records, as to how the work should look like.

Shinji Suzuki took on the task of maintaining (restoring) a famous Tokugawa bonsai and was very careful not to restyle, but to restore. Does he get the credit for creation? No, just for the Restoration. - http://www.internationalbonsai.com/ibm/ ... rticle.pdf There are detailed records of bonsai restorations also, the tree itself often holds the record in the form of branch placement, scars, grafts, etc and there are often even photos, Larz Anderson's collection is documented quite well, even considering the age of the trees.
Speaking of Larz, here's an example for Attila,
The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection at Harvard is home to trees imported from Japan around 1913, when he died in 1937 the collection was donated to Harvard, later after his wife's death the remaining trees went there as well. No one knew how to care for them, many tried and many trees were lost but eventually things came around on about 1962 and the trees were cared for and maintained well enough for them to survive. Here, some 90 plus years later, guess who gets the credit? BUT he didn't create them!
Some of the bonsai like the Hinoki Cypress were started in 1787, the original creator's name is lost to history, so the collector received the credit. However,since we dealing with such old trees where the information of the creator has been lost, the absence of the credit is forgivable, especially since Larz never claimed, nor does the collection now lead anyone to believe that these were his creations.
- http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/plants ... intro.html
It is also interesting to note that all the collections such as the national Collection attribute the creation to the artist, when known and not to the following caretakers, no matter what maintenance or changes are made and no matter if the original artist is known or not.
I think the major difference we have here is that some are talking about antibody's bonsai, where I am talking about the high quality pieces that make the grade as art. Napkin holders and ashtrays at a craft show are seldom signed by the artist, they are so common, no one really cares, they are not unique pieces of art...on the other hand wildlife paintings sold at the same show are signed and often are considered art.

Will


Last edited by Will Heath on Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:59 pm 
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Quote:
I think the major difference we have here is that some are talking about antibody's bonsai, where I am talking about the high quality pieces that make the grade as art. Napkin holders and ashtrays at a craft show are seldom signed by the artist, they are so common, no one really cares, they are not unique pieces of art...on the other hand wildlife paintings sold at the same show are signed and often are considered art.

That is pretty much the crux of bonsai in America. I wouldn't worry too much about anyone stealing our identity or passing our work off as their own. I can't help but wonder what a napkin holder collector might say about your above analogy. Hope there aren't any ashtray or napkin holder collectors out there...
Attila and I at the 50th Anniversary of the California Bonsai Society exhibit of very large trees.
ak


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:30 am 
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Al Keppler wrote:
Attila and I at the 50th Anniversary of the California Bonsai Society exhibit of very large trees.
ak

Hey, that's a good picture with a nice bonsai. Thanks, Al.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:14 am 
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Richard Moquin wrote:
In closing it will be interesting to see the transformation of Walter's submission at K of B. What title will the tree hold then, will it be a Walter Pall tree?

Richard,
what will be so interesting about this? It is clear that the tree in question never ever was a good bonsai. It was clearly material trained without artistry. That's fine - we have thousands of those. That's what most nurseries in Asia do: create material for creating good bonsai. It was imported into Europe and some fool thought that it MUST have been a masterpiece if someone wants that much money for it. It was exhibited on a show by a professional and I made it clear in a tree critique that this was silly to do. So after my transformation one can only call it a Walter Pall tree. What else? You don't have to like it but to not give 100 % credit to the one who finally styled this tree would be a gross misunderstanding. Otherwise we would have to record the person who found the original tree, and then the one who grafted onto it and then the one who potted it and then the one who imported it etc. I think it has become pretty clear from the discussion so far that the person who puts the MAIN stamp onto the tree should get the MAIN credit. There may be more than one in many cases though. But certainly not in this case.
Walter


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 5:37 am 
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Walter,
I hope you did not take my comment out of context, by interesting I meant exactly the gist of my part of the discussion. That each artist has his/her individual brush strokes. Will the transformation be such that a signature evolves from your artistic intervention.
One thing that perhaps was not mentioned or mentioned only in passing, is the hord of collectors out there that own trees that are looked after by others. It may be so and sos' collection but the trees credentials should be of their creators IMHO, and by creators I also encompass the "transformers" so to speak, as the owners play or have played no part in the current flair of the tree. In other words to sum up my position on this particular discussion is pay Caesar its due.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:05 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
It is also interesting to note that all the collections such as the national Collection attribute the creation to the artist, when known and not to the following caretakers, no mater what maintenance or changes are made and no matter if the original artist is known or not.

All right, you win (I just want to make sure that you work hard for it...(;-) ). I would have hated if you just gave up on me.
Good job in bringing up great examples for bonsai restauration - I am really glad for the link to the Anderson collection, I didn't know about this website and there are some exquisite articles about hinoki bonsai, probably the best hinokis I've ever seen. I really love that species, (although it bugs the hell out of me that it is impossible to grow foliage from any wood older than a couple of years - but I guess, that makes it so much more special. Black pine is considered the species that separates the boys from men, but I think that Hinoki separates men from the select elite).
Giving credit in bonsai is a complex issue, but there is nothing wrong in trying to draw the line and bringing some order in the chaos - it is never going to be the perfect solution, but we should do the best we can in being fair to the creator(s).
Again, great job!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:05 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
Attila, We could make up imaginary scenarios all day long, but there is no need to, the world is full of old bonsai.
As mentioned, John Naka's Goshin has changed and been under the care of a few different people, but is will always be John Naka's creation. Will

That is true, but while John was still alive he still went twice sometimes as many as three times a year to help maintain the forest and keep the John Naka in it. Now that he is gone, you are right it will be known as John Naka's "Goshin" But it will either improve or degrade. That choice will be left to those intrusted to it's care. I suspect it will probably improve. It will be John Naka's "Goshin" in name but the improved piece will be the work of someone else. So it goes in the collection world. I work on pieces from time to time in the Lee Institute's collection. We have many pieces from some very notable artists from Southern California. It is a very tedious task to learn how to keep a tree like that of the creator. I have slipped up a few times and tweaked a branch here or shortend a branch there. Bob Hilvers always comes by and says: "there ya go again Keppler making Keppler trees again". Of course this is almost always followed with a wink.
Trust me if I work on these trees long enough they will gradually take on many Keppler characteristics. It is impossible for them not to.
I think Walter says it best. If he restyles it, it's his. No questions asked. Thats good enough for me.
Al


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:12 pm 
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So is changing trees from "notable artists" into "Keppler trees" a good thing in your opinion?
Al Keppler wrote:
I think Walter says it best. If he restyles it, it's his. No questions asked. Thats good enough for me.

What Walter said was "...the person who puts the MAIN stamp onto the tree should get the MAIN credit." This is more than a simple restyle, it is, as I said in the article, scraping the paint off the canvas, making the tree unrecognizable from what it was.

Will


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:43 pm 
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Will,
In your examples,I think the donors are noted,not the creators.They may be the same in these particular cases,but the donation is noted,not the artist.
Another page on the website https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/exhibits.html denotes the collection the trees are from...not the creator of the tree.again,the collectors may or may not be the original creators.
As far as long forgotten artists ie, the Anderson collection......in other art forms the pieces would likely be captioned "artist unknown".
I don't think anyone is arguing that the original creator of a bonsai should not receive credit for his work.But,bonsai changes for better or worse over time.We're not talking a new application of lime sulphur to deadwood or needle plucking on pines.Trees mature and grow and need major reworking over the years.The changes can be subtle and gradual,but over a long enough period of time they can be great in scope.Who decides when the tree is no longer the work of the orignal designer?
All that being said,and not having experience in competitons and exhibits......I have to ask.Is this displaying and/or competeing with someone else's work a widespread occurance?Are there rules in place to prohibit this practice?
andy
as an after thought....dog shows and horseracing come to mind.Perhaps these are not exactly art to all(tell that to a trainer)...but the owner is usually listed first,then the trainer and then the jockey or handler.Or is it the other way around? :)
andy


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