“It's not time to worry yet,” said Harper Lee in “To Kill a Mockingbird. But the time may have come if you’re an art lover.
It’s worrisome enough that 3-D printers called Fabricators can automatically render one-of-a-kind sculpture a lost art simply by fashioning solid objects from a blueprint on a computer. Just press “print.”
But now you can actually build castles in the air with the stroke of a pen - a 3-D printer pen called the 3Doodler by tracing a mental picture in the air with it. Presto - an objet d’art.
Two years ago, this column reported the advent of the Fabricator and noted that such short-cuts have been in the making for some time. For example, Warhol http://www.examiner.com/article/why-did-warhol-paint-soup-cans-coke-and-corn-flakes had someone else make a work that he signed. And get this. He ordered the non-Warhol-Warhol by phone. He called it in!
Glass artist Dale Chihuly is another example. The Seattle Times in the artist’s home state has reported that the art of Chihuly is not necessarily the art of Chihuly. His name goes on glasswork he no longer creates. What’s more, he’s believed to sell “limited editions” of his work that are mass-produced on a factory scale “with teams of craftsmen and contractors turning out warehouses full of glass components.”
Chihuly has bristled at the idea that an "unlimited edition" is essentially mass production. but his definition is ambiguous: "It means that a bunch of things are being made the same way."
The same way? Chihuly went from a small glassblowing studio to what The Seattle Times calls “a conglomerate that produces, warehouses and ships thousands of glass components each year for sale and display.”
As for those displays, Chihuly charges museums upwards of half a million dollars. (The Morean Art Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, purchased its Chihuly Collection for $6 million).
But given that Chihuly doesn’t blow his own glassworks anymore, one wonders if he still has a hand in the “hand-painted” part of his work. Chihuly’s answer? "I start the painting. I figure out how I want it painted, and then there are other people that paint it."
With the Fabricator and 3Doodler on hand for the Warhols and Chihulys of the world, it’s time to worry, don’t you think?