Did Chihuly Steal His Student’s Ideas?



I am very excited to write about this topic. As an artist, I have often found myself in situations where I asked myself in how far the interactive process of teaching and working with students influences the perceptions and ultimately the work of the master. Like in any learning process, there is a lot of exchange of ideas and collaboration that takes place in the art studying process. Theoretically, the teacher, instructor or team leader is a trove of knowledge and experience, an idol for emulation, and often also a source of inspiration. In reality, ever so often it is the students of, and assistants to the big name artists who help breathing a new life to their master’s work or even complete works for their masters.

A very powerful and hence a much debated example of this phenomenon is the Rembrandt’s now infamous painting The Polish Rider, which is a portrait of a young man traveling on horseback through the landscape which is owned by and on display at the Frick Collection, New York. The Rembrandt Research Project, an international art initiative which was established to track, authenticate, and research Rembrandt’s works, questioned the authenticity of its authorship in the 1980s, suggesting that the painting was not by Rembrandt but by his talented student Willem Drost. The jury is still out on this question, and the discussion amongst Rembrandt scholars continues to this day.

The Arts section of a recent edition of The New York Times dated 22 August 2017 features an article titled “Chihuly Art”, A Legacy Under Siege, which once again raises the issue of authenticity and the difficulties related to distinguishing works of prominent artists from their students’. The article discussed the case of Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor, glass blowing master and author of installations and environmental work, whose work was recently exhibited at the New York Botanical Garden. The article states that the artist is facing a court battle initiated by his former team contractor, who is seeking compensation “for millions of dollars of paintings that the contractor says he created or inspired, but for which he said he was never properly credited or compensated”.

Dale Chihuli
New York Botanical Garden, 2017

A couple of years ago, I remember visiting the breathtaking Chihuly Garden and Glass Art Museum in Seattle. Ironically, looking admiringly at his incredible large-scale work, I recall thinking during my visit that it would have been impossible for Chihuly to create works on such a scale without significant assistance from others, and I was wondering who those others might be.

Lime Green Icecle Tower,2011. Height x width: 42 1/2 x 7 ft. MFA museum



Crimson and Chestnut Fiori Boat, 2017

The Sun and Black Niijima Floats, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California, 2010
Three Graces Tower, 2016, 84 x 96 x 96″, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Boathouse 7 Neon, 2016, 8 x 27 x 16′, Seattle

On a related note, back some years ago Roland Barthes in his essay The Death of the Author argued for a separation of the creativity or creative idea (or content), and its mechanical execution (or form), and art scholars later recycled this idea stating that there no original art left in terms of its content, and that the only innovative or original contribution an artist makes is related to the form. The issue of copyright and intellectual property is as poignant as ever in the arts world, and it will be interesting to see how cases like Chihuly’s are treated from the legal, ethical and social perspective moving forward.

A Painting Trip to Italy

Having survived a very eventful first half of the year that included highlights like my graduation with a Bachelor in Arts and my participation in the New York ArtExpo 2017 as well as in the SUNY Annual Art Exhibition 2017, a couple of weeks ago I headed to Florence, Italy, to join a landscape painting workshop with my fellow artists.

On arrival in Florence, all the wonderful memories of the last year immediately hit me because I painted so many lovely landscapes here last year, many of which were selected for the SUNY exhibition a couple of months ago:

As I hoped, this trip has been equally prolific in terms of advancing my painting skills and creating a variety of new oil landscapes, but this time the trip was more than that. Suddenly I realized how important it is to use all of our senses – to feel the sun warming our skin, to stop for a few seconds to listen to the wind and to cicadas in the evening, to listen out for the lovely local shepherd dog barking in the distance not out of boredom but out of happiness…

Florence is a perfect place for letting go of the everyday treadmill of life, getting off it for a while, and to just feel, see, hear, taste, and touch. This has changed my perception of the landscapes I was painting, which has hopefully translated in my art:

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting a number of wonderful places, for example, the Lars Thorsen’s studio in Florence and meeting this incredible sculptor there, as well as visiting the Villa Reale in Monza, the Palazzo del Bargello in Florence, and the sculptor and painter training studios at the Florence Academy of Art – what a treat!

My husband Paul helped throughout in spirit and hands-on, and now we are packing and heading back to Milan, and then from there to visit our dear friends Angelika and Ernst in Switzerland, to enjoy the wonderful views of the magnificent Lake Maggiore and to paint some more landscapes there!

Last but not least:

  • Saatchi Art have listed two of my paintings, The Bill Cunningham Corner and The Dreamer (both exhibited at the New York ArtExpo 2017):  https://www.saatchiart.com/laurenstrock
  • FineArtAmerica are now using my artworks to create lovely customised gifts: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/lauren-strock.html
  • I now have an Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/laurenstrock/
  • I have a dedicated Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/laurenstrockart/

Thank you all for all your support and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, listen to the rustling of leaves, watch the clouds in the sky, and touch the rain when it runs down your umbrella for inspiration!

Receiving my BA in Arts

This week was a very special week as my family and friends attended my Graduation Ceremony at the Lincoln Center. The long anticipated event was even better than I expected and my university, SUNY, did a great job selecting the venue, decorating it, choosing suitable speakers, and awarding the degrees – I was very proud and moved at the same time.
After four years of hard work, attending lectures, working through heaps of very diverse study material, participating in workshops, figuring out how VLE works and learning the lingua franca of my degree, as well as meeting amazing professors and tutors and establishing great friendships with my fellow students, I was awarded a BA in Arts, and had a great sense of achievement and satisfaction sharing this moment with my family who arrived from so many different cities and countries to celebrate with me – as close as New York and San Diego, and as far as Italy and Vietnam!
I genuinely feel that my experience of studying towards my degree not only transformed my artistic perspective and vantage point, but also enriched my every day life – and also it was very challenging at times to persevere, I am very glad I did.
Now I am looking forward to heading to Italy in just a few days, for another insightful workshop with Andrew and the rest of our peripatetic ‘gang’ of artists joining us this summer, and with my husband Paul joining me on the trip, I will no doubt return to New York in July with many new paintings, ideas, impressions, and interests!
Thank you all for your ongoing support, and I will update you from Italy soon!

Annual Graduating Senior’s Art Exhibition at my University

As my graduation is approaching, I was asked to participate in the Annual Graduating Senior’s art exhibition at my University.


Art works of 8 students were exhibited in an intimate room with a reception held at night. I exhibited my 2016-2017 landscape paintings from Florence, Italy and one of my still life paintings. The setting and the lighting were absolutely glorious. All of the students and their guests were so delighted with the artworks. Few of them I never met during my studies and I was gratified to get to know them during the reception.


Each of the artists gave a little speech describing their work and shared all the learning experiences they received.


With artist Patricia Cazorla

I would like to use this opportunity to thank the organizers of this event, faculty co-curators: Terry Boddie and Betty Wilde-Biasiny, and assistant curator: Anita Sillery. Terry Boddie was my mentor during my studies and I want to thank him for his inspiration and support

I also want to thank my last class professor, Raul Manzano for his encouragement and wish him good luck with the workshop in Barcelona.

With my all times big supporter, my dear husband Paul



A Plea to Preserve Italian Masterpieces

I often think about Italy. We know that Italy is the pioneer of the Renaissance Art Movement, and as an artist with a degree in art history and family living in Milan, I am worried about the future of this fascinating country. With everything else affecting the country, I am wondering if the government will be able to preserve the iconic artworks this country is so well known for, from the architectural masterworks like the Coliseum and Pantheon in Rome, to legendary paintings and frescos that adorn museums and churches in Milan, Venice and Florence.


The late seismic developments alone had a devastating effect on the country, when the earthquakes hit central Italy in August last year, with aftershocks lasting until the end of October. Last month, I had finally found time to subscribe for The Burlington Magazine, and received my copies of the journal’s March and April editions last week; in the March issue, I came across a great editorial piece by Alessandro Delpiori in which he discusses the subject.


Delpiori states that the quakes hit four regional administrations: the Marche, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo, and although these areas are not known for great museums, many of the towns and villages in this region have Medieval and Renaissance period churches and monasteries known for their fourteenth to sixteenth century frescoes and other artworks.



The earthquakes claimed lives of three hundred people, and some towns, like Amitrice, were basically wiped out the day of the first earthquake. The damage many buildings and artworks in this area have suffered is equally of a devastating magnitude. While an estimated two thousand churches are wrecked or are unstable, and given all other economic, political and social challenges the country is facing at the moment, many art lovers wonder where the funds will come from for all required rebuilding and restoration work.

San Benedetto basilica in Norcia. The building contained a large painting , St. Benedict and Total, by Filippo Napoletano, which was completed in 1621, and another painting from the mid-1600s, Madonna and Norcia Saints, by the Roman painter Vincenzo Manetti
Amatrice’s town clock in the 16th century bell tower remains frozen at just after 3:36 a.m, the moment the quake hit


At the same time, lack of investment in restoration of these historically and artistically important edifices may lead to a slagging demand for tourism in those areas, which would be highly undesirable because it would lead to their further deterioration. I do hope that the government will make the restoration of the damaged region one of its priorities, and that future generations can experience and enjoy the stunning art this country has to offer for the years to come.


On a more upbeat note, earlier this week I attended a briefing and induction session for the upcoming en plain painting workshop that will take place in Florence this year at my mentor’s Andrew Lattimore’s house, and now I am really looking forward to returning to Italy again this summer to get inspired by its beautiful scenery and heritage (not to mention its great food and wine)! It was such a great workshop last year, where I had a chance to bond with fellow artists and learn new skills!

Guest Post

I asked a friend of mine, Andrew Lattimore, who is a renown artist himself and teaches painting to beginning and advanced level students in the USA and Europe to write a guest post on my blog, please enjoy reading his thoughts below.

Once again I return this summer to Florence, Italy, my beloved, spiritual home that I know so well.  It has been forty years since I first fell
under the spell and intrigue of this magnificent city, that which is considered the birth place of the Renaissance.  It’s history, wealth, genius
and above all it’s art, have inspired the world for centuries there after.  Florence has always been part of what was called the “grand tour” of
an artist’s training and an individual’s education in the esthetics and humanities.
This summer once again, I am thrilled to be taking another group of students and art lovers to enjoy the riches of Tuscany and experience my
intimate tour of the culturally rich and dynamic city of  Florence.  This year we are fortunate to be staying in Florence “proper” yet
we’ll still enjoy the Tuscan landscape as we paint in ‘plein air’ on the property of Art Hotel Villa Agape.
Of course, the abundance of art on our tour begins with Michelangelo’s colossal marble figure of David. (Attached is an extremely
foreshortened drawing of David I drew sitting at the base of his pedestal during my student years).   Among the numerous places we will visit, the magnificent Duomo, Medici Chapels, the Bargello, Santa Maria Novella, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi Galleries, where Leonardo’s “Adoration of the Magi” has just been unveiled to the public again after 6 years of delicate restoration.
Another important point of interest is seeing the plein air landscapes of the Italian impressionists, known as the ‘Macchiaioli’.  Their
contribution to the ‘plein air’ movement is historically understated and in some cases unknown.  Their example will inspire us as we paint  the gardens and hills of Florence.  (Attached is a landscape demo of olive trees I did in ‘plein air’ at a previous Florence workshop).  There will also be painting demos in this workshop.
There is also the people of Florence.  Besides their love of life and the arts; is their passion for design, fashion, sumptuous food and wine.  To walk side by side with all Florentines in kinship, has always been one of the great cultural experiences of my life.  I look forward to the next chapter this July 3rd – 14th, 2017.
If you have any interest in joining us for this journey and experiencing the sublime beauty of Tuscany this summer.  Please contact:
Andrew Lattimore at lattimorestudio@yahoo.com or call (914) 819-8856.


Foreshortened David-1977

Olive tree demo

ArtExpo 2017 Update

The first two days at the exhibition have been very eventful and exciting! The visitors are incredibly diverse, and it is a unique opportunity to meet art lovers from all over the world, and also to see some very uniquely dressed individuals – I am sure that Bill Cunningham to whom my tribute piece is dedicated would have found a lot of inspiration for his street fashion photography here!

The highlights of my first two days were meeting Mark Shapiro with his son and his son’s girlfriend, making friends with a rising artist from Uzbekistan who is exhibiting next to me and specializes in miniatures including Mogul art copies, being visited by a group of unicorns, and of course the many visits by my friends and family who found time to support me and visit my corner.

I was asked for an interview as a Rising Artist, and will share more exciting updates with you after the exhibition closes on Monday. Thank you to everyone for your support, and I am already full of new ideas for the next year’s exhibition!

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I and The New York Times Commemorating Bill Cunningham

I was pleased to read in the Sunday’s The New York Times that people fondly remember Bill Cunningham, the fashion photographer and brilliant editor who passed away last year:


The article mentioned that Bill had been covering the Easter Parade since the 1950’s. The parade started as a fashion statement after church services and swelled into an extravaganza of some excess as wilder costumes and hats entered the scene. The Times released a number of amazing photos taken by Bill that have never been published before, and no doubt the editor had so many options to choose from, considering that Bill took about 2,000 photos every week.



I was hoping that this exceptionally talented and fascinating person who was always shy of any publicity would not be forgotten easily. As I was finishing my tribute painting that is dedicated to this extraordinary person, The Bill Cunningham Corner, for the upcoming ArtExpo exhibition this week, I had a great time reflecting on his unassuming personality that deeply impressed me when I accidentally bumped into him in Manhattan just over a year ago.


Bill captured so many people’s imagination with his photographic skills and insight and made people from all over the world to fall in love with street fashion the same way he did many years ago.


My tribute painting to Bill will be exhibited at the ArtExpo New York 2017 at Pier 94 on the Hudson River (54thStreet) this weekend. I hope that my work will remind people of Bill’s contribution to our society, and be a quiet but memorable celebration of his life.

Bill Cunningham Corner, oil on canvas (in progress)

To find out more about the exhibition, please visit: http://artexponewyork.com/


The International annual exhibition ArtExpo will show my work from April 21th to 24th. The painting, Bill Cunningham Corner, oil on canvas 40×54 inch, is my tribute to Bill Cunningham. After accidentally meeting and talking to him last year, I was inspired to paint his picture. His death shortly after we met, gave me urgency to proceed with the project.


Despite all the glamour he was surrounded with, his fortunate family upbringing and even a short stint at Harvard on full scholarship, he clearly avoided any publicity and shied away from any attention on himself. Despite many celebrity acquaintances and his open status, did he hide behind his camera and zoomed in only on people that were as unique as he was through his lens? Was he a manifestation of the New Yorkers’ special type of loneliness, which makes being alone particularly melancholic, amongst so many people, but also is so common today that it has been normalised in our society?


My ARTEXPO New York Exhibition

The International annual exhibition ArtExpo will show my work from April 21th to 24th. The painting, Bill Cunningham Corner, oil on canvas 40×54 inch, is my tribute to Bill Cunningham. After accidentally meeting and talking to him last year, I was inspired to paint his picture. His death shortly after we met, gave me urgency to proceed with the project.


Here is what I learned about Bill Cunningham and my personal thoughts about his life.

A Very Public Enigma, Bill Cunningham


Most New Yorkers would say that they know who Bill Cunningham was. Local residents regularly bumped into him when walking their dogs or rushing to get their morning or lunch coffee fix on the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th Street, where he took snapshots of uniquely dressed people for decades. There is now a formal petition to officially name the spot in his honor, to become the Bill Cunningham Corner. Others will have read his fascinating columns in The New York Times. A former avant-garde milliner, he gave up his successful hat design business to dedicate himself to fashion writing and photography, and rubbed shoulders with high-profile celebrities in the fashion world and beyond.


But what do we know about him really? A notoriously shy and intelligent introvert, Bill Cunningham has never shared any information about his personal life yet as the first editor to cover gay events in the press. Despite all the glamour he was surrounded with, his fortunate family upbringing and even a short stint at Harvard on full scholarship, he clearly avoided any publicity and shied away from any attention on himself. Despite many celebrity acquaintances and his open status, did he hide behind his camera and zoomed in only on people that were as unique as he was through his lens? Was he a manifestation of the New Yorkers’ special type of loneliness, which makes being alone particularly melancholic, amongst so many people, but also is so common today that it has been normalised in our society?


After all, our knowledge of Bill can be summarised in a few standard labels that we have mostly picked up from a 2011 documentary made about him, Bill Cunningham New York: A fashion-obsessed bachelor editor for the Times, revered by the fashion community, with his own signature style of black sneakers, khaki pants and blue jacket, always on a bike despite famously losing over twenty bikes in various accidents and to bike thieves, living in a tiny apartment in the Carnegie Hall building. He sounds like so many other New Yorkers. But his identity as we know is not shaped by anything personal, specific, and deep. In spite of representing such a cliché, what makes him Bill Cunningham is his visionary pioneering of street fashion blogging, during nearly thirty years. His idea of taking quick snapshots on the streets of clothes he perceived as unique worn by people and posting them on his column differs from modern photo blogs only by the use of technology.


What is interesting about this is how his work de-personalizes the person wearing the clothes and turns it into a mannequin that demonstrates clothes, as Cunningham was very rarely interested in people for their own sake and fascinated by their unique styles. He famously took photos of Greta Garbo’s coat without being interested in her celebrity in the slightest, or ignored Catherine Deneuve ‘because she wasn’t wearing anything interesting’. At the same time, Cunningham pioneered the paper’s coverage of the then unspoken-about gay community, thus making the visible people invisible, and invisible people visible through his art. Like many other celebrities, his own public profile appears to be very visible as we all feel we know him through his work and the documentary about him. Yet if you are trying to find something personal about him, something that gives you insight into his heart and mind, you suddenly realize that the man behind the camera lens on the Bill Cunningham Corner with a bike waiting for him is a very public enigma which makes you reflect on how public identities get constructed, promoted, and naturalized in today’s society.


This painting is a tribute to the incognito public enigma, Bill Cunningham, who came to New York at the age of 19 and left New York forever in June 2016, dying of complications of a stroke at the age of 87. Reflected here as we think we know him, he stands for the ability of media to create powerful public identities and construct celebrity of people even despite their will. The current online petition to name his regular photography spot after him is the most recent example of imposing celebrity on people whose whole life proves that they desired to remain anonymous. One has to question, is the society creating our identities, rather than us presenting our identities in the society? The jury is out.