The Easel

The Truth about ‘Cultural Appropriation’

Did Matisse and Picasso rip off African art when they copied tribal face masks? Did the Beatles rip off musical ideas from Blind Willie Johnson? Should artists seek permission before creating such works? But permission from whom – and, anyway, don’t all artists borrow ideas? “Nobody owns a culture, but everyone inhabits one (or several), and in inhabiting a culture, one finds the tools for reaching out to other cultures.”