Photocopy Art

From an original post on Suite101 by Jo Murphy. The post and Jo Murphy’s bio link are gone since Suite101 revamped the site.

Copy Art Pioneered in Canada
Centre Copie-Art Opened in Montreal in 1982 by Jacques Charbonneau

Although it was an international art movement, Canada is recognised for its major contribution to the art form called Copy Art.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Twentieth Century Photography, Copy Art or Xerography was pioneered in Canada, where it is still popular today. Copy Art, uses the photocopier to create artworks by reproducing and multiplying images. The artists play with the process of transformation of graphic images. They experiment with the metamorphosis brought about by the alchemy of light at the heart of the reproduction technology.

Origins of Copy ArtThe electrography process was developed in the USA and Germany in 1938. But this technology became freely available by the year 1960. Copy Art began to appear as an art form by about 1970, and the first exhibition of this kind of art called “Rochester” was held in 1979. Other exhibitions of this type were held in Canada in the same year.

After making its first appearance in France in 1975, copy art became more accepted. By 1983, an exhibition called “Electra” was held in the Musee d’Art de la Ville de Paris. The gallery devoted considerable space to the art form.

Copy Artist Pati HillArtist Pati Hill exhibited in the “Electra” exhibition, working with shadows, grains, and contrasts of black and white as well as textures and micro textures. To create this work, Hill created imagery from feathers, flowers fabrics and plants, says de Meridieu. In a chapter about innovative pioneers in the book called Digital and Video Art, de Mèredieu goes on to talk about Hill as a contemporary experimentalist and her work as extravagant. An example of Hill’s technique, she explains, was to photograph every possible (visible, invisible, obvious and unexpected) of the Palace of Versailles.

Centre Copie-Art of Canada

Copy Art continues to thrive in Canada today. The founder of the Canadian movement was Jacques Charbonneau. After discovering the technique, when he was on holiday, he returned to Canada where he opened Centre Copie-Art in Montreal in 1982.

Body Art and Other Offshoots of Xerography

Practitioners of body art, such as Amal Abdenour and Phillipe Boissonnet, reproduced different parts of the body using photo copiers. They were exploiting variations of colour and the effects of contrast and solarisation. Much of this work was achieved by using overlays of transparencies.

Because it so versatile, there have been many different developments and innovations that have evolved from Copy Art. According to de Mèredieu, magazines and fanzines sprang up around artist centres such as art schools and colleges. A centre recognised as famous for encouraging this type of art form was Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Dijon.

de Mèredieu points to the importance of this movement, when she mentions that Klaus Urbons founded a museum of photocopying in Mulheim an der Ruhr in Germany. Here there are displayed old machines, documentation and artist’s work. Another example of the value of the body of work, the style and the method, is the opening in 1990 of a major international museum of electrography in Cuenca in Spain.

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