New York

“Copy Cat Show”

Franklin Furnace

In 1938 the lawyer Chester Carlson developed xerography as a quick, efficient means to make carbon copies of patent specifications. In 1959 Xerox unveiled the machine which soon became an office fixture. And by the early ’60s artists had turned to the medium as a cheap, easy, and challenging way to manipulate the stuff o’ the world. The rest is history: copy art was born. But the artists also inherited the medium’s paradoxes, as a mass-reproduction technique used for single or small-edition works. And while the machine promised much, it generally delivered little, offering standard formats, limited colors, and relatively poor resolution. Copy artists have, in varied ways, been grappling with these contradictions ever since.

“Copy Cat” is not the first large-scale overview of the medium. “Electroworks,” which George Eastman House organized in 1979, both preceded it and surpassed it in scope,

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