Einstein by Epstein

David Hockney seems to be everywhere at the moment. His major exhibition at the Royal Academy has just ended and he was also in the news recently because he’s just completed a portrait on his iPad of Stephen Hawking in celebration of the latter’s 70th birthday. Visitors to the Science Museum, who commissioned it, can see the work. But anyone who doesn’t live in or near to London will probably be disappointed as, “due to copyright restrictions”, it’s not been posted on the web.

Never mind. If I want to see an artistic tribute to a great scientist then I can pop along to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to look at Jacob Epstein’s bust of Einstein.

2012-03-30 16.16.19

Einstein sat for the portrait at a Cromer refugee camp in 1933 after he had  fled from Nazi Germany. I think it really captures how the great man looked with his wild hair and intense expression – the popular perception of the stereotypical scientist!

Speaking about the sculpture, Epstein is reported to have said

Einstein appeared dressed very comfortably in a pullover with his wild hair floating on the wind. His glance contained a mixture of the humane, the humorous and the profound. This was a combination that delighted me. He resembled the ageing Rembrandt.”

Other casts of the bust are held by the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, Huddersfield Art Gallery, The Tate, The Science Museum and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. And pictures are available on the web, including the Walker’s website. So there’s no need to traipse down to London to see it.

The Fitzwilliam have a Fact sheet about the sculpture which can be downloaded here.

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5 thoughts on “Einstein by Epstein

  1. Regarding Mr Hockney and his copyright, do you know of any “Copyright for Dummies” primer? Today I was visiting a National Trust property in the Midlands and there was a notice to the effect that photography was not permitted in the house as “they did not own the copyright to some of the objects.” When I asked in their shop the volunteer showed me some printed oven gloves and said they could sell that colourway but not the original colours for the William Morris pattern as it was owned by a company. I know that with written books the copyright ceases a certain number of years after the death of the author. What is the situation regarding copyright of artworks? Often photographs of artworks are copyrighted by the owning collection, but, I think, it is only the photograph which is copyright and not the original work. Is there only a problem if you want to start using an image commercially? Could I start selling t-shirts with the Mona Lisa on provided it is my photograph and not one from I’ve downloaded from the Louvre?

    • Interesting point John. This copyright business is something that is becoming more difficult with images appearing on the Internet. I know that there have been a lot of ructions about Pinterest with artists concerned about people pinning images of their work.

      As far as I’m aware copyright rests with the artist, not the owner of the work, and it applies for 70 years after the artist has died. So Mr Hockney owns the copyright of his pictures. Legally, one of his works can’t be reproduced without his permission. However, there is a grey area as I believe that you can reproduce an image if it is being discussed in a publication – rather like quoting a passage from a book.

      With sculptures on public display the copyright rules are different. Photos and drawings of them can be reproduced

      But its a difficult area. You’d think artists would want to get images of their work spread around on blogs etc. to gain themselves publicity, providing nobody else is making a profit out of it. They could issue Creative Commons licences to limit how the images are used.

  2. Pingback: Damien Hirst – “the proprietor of a money-spinning novelty factory” | notes to the milkman

  3. Pingback: Damien Hirst and Copyright – yet again! | notes to the milkman

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