William Merrit Chase and Girl Talk: The Evolution of Sampling

(leftt) Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas, 1656. Museo del Prado, Madrid. (right) William Merritt Chase, Hide and Seek, 1888. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

(leftt) Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas, 1656. Museo del Prado, Madrid. (right) William Merritt Chase, Hide and Seek, 1888. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

I recently attended a Spotlight Tour on William Merritt Chase’s Hide and Seek (1888) led by School, Outreach, and Family Programs Coordinator Natalie Mann. Natalie discussed the painting’s many compositional similarities to Velázquez’s Las Meninas (c. 1656)—the column at the front left corner, for example, and the paintings in the background that help structure the composition. Our focus then turned to differences. Something that really struck me was the way Chase took the compositional ideas of Velázquez—the “dark manner” color palette from the Munich Royal Academy and the quick brush strokes of the impressionist style—and made them his own in this piece. It is Chase’s unique combination of all these components that create powerful new imagery in his own style.

Fast forward nine decades and enter Girl Talk, a DJ featured in the 2008 open-source documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto, which confronts the copyright issues of sampling. While there have been many adversaries to the legality of sampling in the electronic music context, Chase’s painting shows that building on ideas from the past is not a new development.

Both Chase and Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) borrow ideas from those around them and combine them to create their own artistic expression, perhaps (in part) as an homage to those that came before . Although music sampling is a much more direct kind of appropriation than the type in which Chase engages (and its originality and artistry less resolved), I couldn’t help but see similarities . Is Chases’s “sampling” of Velázquez a precursor to ideas explored in Remix Manifesto?

Katherine Kunze, Marketing Intern

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>