Type B Blog Post

In the article “To Cite or to Steal? When a Scholarly Project Turns Up in a Gallery?” by Kevin L Ferguson it says, “While the art world has its own tradition of theft and attribution, as part of the broader humanities, the art world today confronts a crisis of intellectual property, commerce, and new forms of dissemination.” This particular quote stood out to me because I have heard of art theft and controversy with crediting the inspiration or original artist but not the “tradition of theft and attribution.” In order to learn more about this I started by asking ChatGPT “what is the art worlds tradition of theft and attribution?” and it responded:

“The art world has a long and colorful history when it comes to theft and attribution. On one hand, you have daring heists like the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990, where priceless artworks were stolen and remain missing to this day. On the other hand, attribution disputes have been a constant in art history, with artists sometimes not getting the credit they deserve or, conversely, being mistakenly attributed works they didn’t create.

Art theft can be driven by the desire for financial gain or, in some cases, ideological motives. The stolen artworks often become part of an underground market, making recovery difficult. As for attribution, the art world has seen cases where a work originally credited to one artist is later reattributed to another, leading to debates and sometimes even legal battles.

It’s a fascinating and sometimes murky aspect of the art world that adds an extra layer of intrigue to the already complex realm of creativity and expression.”

I was initially curious as to how ChatGPT would answer this and it answered how I would have; art has been stolen physically and intellectually, and when artists credit their work, it can change because inspiration doesn’t always come from one work.

I then asked ChatGPT to “write a 250 blog post on the art worlds tradition of theft and attribution?” and it responded:

“Title: Unraveling the Canvas: Art World’s Dance with Theft and Attribution

In the realm of art, where creativity knows no bounds, there exists a darker dance between theft and attribution. The art world has witnessed daring heists that read like Hollywood scripts and attribution disputes that challenge our perception of artistic legacy.

The Ballet of Theft:

One cannot discuss art theft without a nod to the notorious Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist of 1990. The thieves, masked and shrouded in mystery, made off with masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Manet, leaving an unsolved puzzle that continues to baffle investigators. The stolen artworks, valued at over half a billion dollars, have become the stuff of legend, residing in the shadowy underworld of illicit art markets.

But it’s not just high-profile heists that mark the canvas of art theft. Throughout history, priceless works have vanished, sometimes reappearing decades later in unexpected places. The motivations behind these thefts are as diverse as the artworks themselves – from financial gain to political statements.

The Tango of Attribution:

Attribution disputes, another intricate dance in the art world, often revolve around the question of who created a particular masterpiece. Sometimes, an artist’s legacy is clouded by misattribution, with works mistakenly credited to the wrong hands. Other times, the true creators languish in obscurity, waiting for their rightful place in the artistic pantheon.

One such case involves the enigmatic artist Banksy, whose identity remains a closely guarded secret. The elusive street artist has seen their works removed from public spaces and auctioned off, leading to debates about the ethics of profiting from unauthorized removals and sales. The blurred lines between vandalism, activism, and art only add to the complexity of attributing Banksy’s creations.

The Grand Finale:

In this grand performance of theft and attribution, the art world grapples with questions of justice, authenticity, and legacy. Recovering stolen masterpieces becomes a quest for both law enforcement and art enthusiasts, while scholars and experts engage in a delicate balancing act of attributing works to the rightful creators.

As the curtain falls on each chapter of art theft and attribution, the stories linger, reminding us that behind the strokes of a brush or the click of a shutter, there exists a world of intrigue, mystery, and the eternal pursuit of truth in the ever-evolving narrative of art history.”

Credits: Matthieu Comoy on Unsplash

After reading this, I think I misunderstood what attribution is, it actually meaning the crediting an artwork to the artist that created it rather than it meaning an artist credits the inspiration to their work. Understanding attribution better, helped me to better understand the article and the reasoning behind Ferguson petitioning the art gallery to mention his work in the same kind of art. Ferguson was claiming that he had been creating this kind of work for much longer than Shulman, the artist featured in the art gallery, and that his work was much more meaningful than the competing artist. I am not personally familiar with the history behind summed frame art but it is hard to believe that Ferguson is the first one to ever create this kind of work, nor will he be the last. This posses the question: should every artist that creates a summed frame artwork mention all the artists before them that created it? Does this concept apply to other kinds of artwork such as oil paintings or sculptures?

I also thought it was very interesting that ChatGPT created the blog post with the theme of a dance performance. It did make it sound more interesting and flow better but I would have thought using the theme of creating an art piece as a theme would have been more appropriate. However, it could be said that dancing is a piece of art and this theme is appropriate for the topic. What do you think?


  1. I thought it was interesting that Chat GPT not only mentioned that artists are often not attributed, but that they are also sometimes misattributed. In terms of copyright, I have always been aware of the issue of artists not receiving credit for their work or ideas, but I haven’t considered as much the issue of artists being mistakenly credited for work that they did not do. It would be interesting to look at the cases where such things have taken place and what the influences or motivations behind this misattribution might have been.

  2. Interesting approach to your post today, Traci. Moving back and forth between using ChatGPT to learn something about a topic, reflecting on it, asking ChatGPT to write a blog post, and then reflecting on that in turn. I do agree that it’s interesting that it used a metaphor of dance in its title and then proceeded to pile on the imagery to make that comparison actually work. It perhaps should have considered how “art” can be more than just visual art…

  3. This was a cool way to use ChatGPT for your blog post. The second bit where it tried to give a more dramatic tone to the piece was very interesting, especially because you didn’t ask it to do so. I think this part seems much more creative compared to the usual pieces it spits out for the blogs.
    You bring up a good point about crediting people in the same field who we have built our work around. Especially in the art world, crediting doesn’t really seem to matter.

  4. ChatGPT actually brought up an interesting dilemma about Banksy. Even though it’s not entirely the same point you explored in the rest of the article it does bring interesting questions about how to deal with anonymous work commercially. Just because the artist is anonymous doesn’t forfeit their copyright for their work.

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