CS/SC: Uncanny Parallels in Sculpture Raise Eyebrows

by Bill Davenport January 25, 2013

Scott Carter,  who received  his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011, has been getting some attention for his gallery-deconstructing drywall sculptures. Problem is, San Antonio artist Chris Sauter got some attention for very similar works as far back as 1999!

For a show at the SAIC student Union Gallery, Carter deconstructed the gallery, making modernist furniture from slabs of drywall cut from the gallery’s walls. Sauter’s 2005 piece, Museum, at Diverseworks in Houston deconstructed the gallery, making modernist furniture from slabs of drywall cut from the gallery’s walls.

carter less is more

Scott Carter, Less is More, 2011

Chris Sauter, Museum, 2005 at Diverseworks Artspace

Chris Sauter, Museum, 2005 at Diverseworks Artspace

Other shows by both artists exhibit further similarities:

carter temporary engagement

Scott Carter, A Temporary Engagement, 2011

Chris Sauter, Graft, 1999, at ArtPace, San Antonio

Chris Sauter, Graft, 1999, at ArtPace, San Antonio


According to Carter’s artist statement, “Artists that currently influence my practice include: Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Olafur Eliasson, Rachel Whiteread, Maya Lin, Fritz Haeg and Pierre Huyghe.” The up-and -coming young artist has a solo show scheduled at Beers Lambert Contemporary in London in 2014. Hmm.


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Britt Ragsdale January 26, 2013 - 09:11

It’s one of the most horrible feelings when you put something out in the public that you have nurtured and developed to an exhibition-ready state only to find out afterwards that it has been done almost exactly the same way. One can study art history and keep a finger on the contemporary art pulse, but no museum- frequenting art forum-reading blog-following registry-watching artist can see everything. I find it even more intriguing when two artists somehow came to the same end result. What happened in their thought processes and personal history that overlapped?

Hills Snyder January 26, 2013 - 09:19

These copies simply aren’t good enough to be taken for the real thing, so saying this is uncanny gives them too much credit — they are not strangely familiar — if you look closely they have less flow than what Chris does and could not be taken for his work. In fact, they are just decorative mimes — Carter does not even understand what Chris has done. The examples shown here are both fake walls built on top of actual walls so that the added walls can then be the site of the cut outs — a conceptually bone headed attempt that is actually the opposite of Sauter’s strategy which is based on making images and objects out of what already exists in the room.

Bill Davenport January 26, 2013 - 22:26

For Museum, Diverseworks constructed a gallery within-a-gallery, which Sauter the deconstructed.

Hills Snyder January 28, 2013 - 05:52

Yes, Chris has encountered that situation more than once. We have discussed this in the past. He agrees that a setup is conceptually not the same as cutting into pre-existing walls.

Also, the reproduction of his childhood bedroom with a telescope cut out of the wall surrounded by actual furniture is different than either.

Ben Woitena January 26, 2013 - 09:21

Similarly, artists refrained from letting Picasso into their studios because he was know to steal from their production.

John Perreault January 26, 2013 - 09:45

Just posted this on a Facebook string: Mmmmmmmmmmm. Synchonicity explained: We are all swimming in the same bath tub. Mark Van Wagner and I discovered via Facebook that we were both using glue and sand in our art. Horrors! But we decided that it would be informative to show our works together. Our traveling exhibition “Drawing from Sand” debuted at the Kauai Museum of art, then moved on to the Naropa Institute in Boulder, and Gallery 125 in Bellport, L.I. Other venues may be in the works. Mark and his wife recently moved from Kauai to Bellport.

JoAnne January 28, 2013 - 21:35

Enjoyed “Drawing from Sand” in Bellport!

Jill Bedgood January 26, 2013 - 09:51

Art that is so similar to art by an artist made previously keeps appearing; so is it lack of knowledge or stealing or synchronicity or what. I know Chris’ work and was wow’ed by it; this work does not compare in quality; however, the work at the Blaffer and then London receives the attention. Is it the responsiblity of the artist ? if responsibility is the correct term. What is the curator’s responsibility? A curator in Texas, the state where Chris Sauter lives and works? I have seen the same happen with other artists from Texas, art that seems often too too similar.

As an artist, I would really like a discussion on appropriation, referencing, art historical commenting, intellectual property, what is building on and furthering, why are artists so unaware of other artists work that may be similar when the internet exists, synchronicity, awareness of art history and contemporary practice, responsibilty of the curator, etc. maybe a little forum on this would be nice! a good, maybe even spirited, conversation with art historians, curators, artists, academics, et al. !

Jerry Seinfeld January 26, 2013 - 10:13

Perhaps it’s an homage?

There is being influenced and then there is copying…but who is Scott Carter anyway? Chris Sauter doesn’t need anyone to stick up for him.

Joan Frederick January 26, 2013 - 11:18

This is called the NEW AGE of the Internet where anything you want to do is OK, including stealing someone else’s intellectual property or his car or his money… Thanks a lot technology, because you have traded convenience for honor and hard work. Translate this same spiel into the next chapter: the environment and why it’s OK to crap in your own living room…

Lindsay Palmer January 26, 2013 - 12:36

It is very very hard for me to believe that with as much attention as Carter is getting that no one would ever say to him, “Hey have you seen this other dudes work?” The art world can be hella bitchy and I can’t tell you how many critiques I have sat through where people are like “hey your work looks pretty similar to this person over there” even when there are just base similarities. That’s the first thing people want to do when they talk about your work is draw similarities to others, so I doubt that he has had no one bring his attention to Sauter’s work at some point or another. Even if this is serendipity and he just happened to stumble into the same thing the 1st or even 2nd time, someone would have pointed it out to him before the 3rd, 4th, 5th showing of this work.

Britt Ragsdale January 26, 2013 - 12:44

Why is it assumed that access to Internet should translate into knowledge of all artists and artworks!? It is not humanly possible. We can not presume that he even knew of his work.

SImon January 26, 2013 - 12:49

Very sloppy. He’s in a MASTERS program. This is plagarism plain and simple, and at that level you can’t plead ignorance, or if you do, you should fail your degree. Either he knew about it and ripped it off, or he didn’t and clearly hasn’t done enough research – like a Google search for ‘drywall art’. Pretty damning of the whole system if this is allowed to stand.

B cross January 26, 2013 - 12:54

As sculpture, I find both artists works equally facile in terms of concept and materials

Dennis Harper January 26, 2013 - 12:55

I agree with Britt’s comment. I became anxious recently when Mark Flood began distributing his “LIKE” signs in Miami because even though I had produced and sold conceptually similar works over a year before his, I know that anyone who happens to remember my pieces, and certainly those who bought them, might come to suspect me of stealing the idea. Of course I’m sure Mark was completely unaware of my work, it’s just that certain concepts, especially those derived from popular culture, are often seized upon by many artists, and it’s inevitable that similar works will be produced.

I consult Google whenever I’m about to produce a piece and I find that more often than not someone else has not only thoroughly explored my great idea, but their resulting work is more eloquent than what I had in mind to produce. I’ve come to suspect that even if I don’t come across similar works, they probably exist. So what.

Anyway, it’s difficult for me to imagine any artist intentionally copying another artists work. What’s the point? You’re safe from embarrassment or ruin only in obscurity, or you fail spectacularly.

Lindsay Palmer January 26, 2013 - 12:58

My point is that even if he didn’t research and know about “all artists and artwork” (Which I am not even suggesting, I am just suggesting familiarizing yourself with artists and artworks that are in a similar vein as your own), than I believe at some point someone else would have, and told him. Either as a friend or in a way to give him his come-upins, as they say.

Chris Carter January 26, 2013 - 14:05

C’mon. It’s a very, very specific idea: cut out drywall of gallery, leave empty shapes in the wall, make furniture from cuts. He was clearly aware of the previous artist’s work — whether consciously or subconsciously (having seen it and forgotten he’d seen it, but retaining the very specific idea.) The only synchronicity is how their names mirror one another — Chris Sauter and Scott Carter… kinda like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

George Harrison famously copied a song unknowingly. Damien Hirst famously copied a lot of John LeKays (and others) work, knowingly.

boobpp' January 26, 2013 - 14:10

both works are yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, yuk on wack sculpture

Ken Little January 26, 2013 - 18:06

This reminds me of when I lived in New York in the 80s. there were a number of artists that I knew pretty well who would not let me visit their studios for fear that I would steal their ideas and get them in the gallery first. Which would leave them out.
I am reminded of a quote I heard from Picasso “You can steal anything you want but don’t get caught borrowing it.” These guys are very obviously borrowing Chris’s work whether they saw it first or not. They should acknowledge that whether they saw Chris’s work before or after. They are echos. Chris is the bomb!!
Unfortunately this is also one of the drawbacks of living and working in San Antonio instead of New York.
You GO Chris!!

Angela Walley January 26, 2013 - 21:23

All I know it that Chris Sauter is an incredibly talented, thoughtful artist and genuine person. San Antonio is lucky to have him.

See how Chris’ work is produced in our documentary for Glasstire here: https://vimeo.com/14341384

Bill Davenport January 26, 2013 - 22:35

Ironically, http://www.thisiscolossal.com, which did the recent feature on Scott Carter’s London show that sparked this whole post, also featured the Walley’s documentary on Chris Sauter in November 2011!

Hills Snyder January 28, 2013 - 05:54

Yes to the !.

And there should be a “like” button for Angela’s comment.

Jerry February 18, 2013 - 08:51

Chris Sauter is not San Antonio he is Texas

tim s January 26, 2013 - 22:55

Thank god this article was written. When I moved to Chicago from Texas and saw Scott’s work I wanted to make it clear to everyone in Chicago that the work had already been made by Sauter. But I didn’t and had my own judge-fest with my GF at home. But whatever. It really doesn’t matter as we all know. If you are, however, gonna copy some work, it should at least be work that sells;)

chang January 27, 2013 - 10:16

I would like to steal speaker pieces

tim s January 27, 2013 - 22:15

try it chang. if you get a show in London from it, just fly me out for the opening

Peter Chametzky January 27, 2013 - 11:32

I’ve taught many MFA students whose work was very similar to precursors–and they were unaware of it until someone told them. It’s our job to let students know this, and their’s to respond as they see fit. If we do our job they can’t plead ignorance. And if they are getting a terminal degree in fine art, they better not have to!

Dan Havel January 27, 2013 - 17:49

Ken, flashback time. Did residency at P.S.1 in ’84-85. Wet behind the ears youngster out of MPLS. With dreams of the Cedar Bar dialogue. Instead, found paranoid artists protecting their turf. Luckily, met some Texas artists when Fresh Paint came to P.S.1. I got my ass down to Texas as fast as I could where dialogue and collaboration was not a dirty word.

Kamala January 28, 2013 - 11:26

As someone who has worked in art, construction, deconstruction and construction and deconstruction for art, hen I saw the Artpace work in 1999, I found it conceptually interesting. For similar reasons, I find the current discussion conceptually interesting. To me, it says as much about the viewers/ artworld as about the artists. To me while the product has some similar properties, the concepts appear to be different, although clearly each viewer brings their own framework and reads the piece differently–though not necessarily paradigmatically. When one considers that the definition of a movement is similar/ resonating work, and art history is built of movements, I fail to be shocked by similar materials used in similar ways. What does surprise me is that the later artist has apparently not addressed the relationship–whether direct or not. It would seem that if the connections are profound, they can be built upon for the mutual benefit of both artists, and those who find the work significant.

Hills Snyder January 28, 2013 - 11:44

Yes, Steve Carter should be addressing this.

Steve Murphy January 28, 2013 - 12:00

When it happens to you……….It really sucks!


Meredith Jack February 15, 2013 - 11:31

What neither of the “young” artists remember (because they are indeed too young to have seen them) is that there were similar works exhibited in the basement of the CAM in Houston sometime in the 1980’s and I saw similar wall destruction pieces in NYC in the mid 1970’s.
No one can own a material, nor a concept. Perhaps we all need to be reminded of previously existing work periodically.


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