When Art History class finally pays off

There has been a little stinky-face going on about Third Day's last CD cover, which, btw, began back in May when Chicago's ArtBlog noticed that the CD art looked something like the CD art from Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief". Which, you know, yeah: it does.

What several sources are doing, however, is knocking Third Day for "thou shalt not steal" and other such jejune attempts at accusing Christians of being hypocrites.

My problem with this is not that CCM can be very derivative -- because it can; it is. I like Third Day and they have some good tunes and some bad albums, and if we want to sort those out at a future date, well, whatever. My problem is with the historically-blank idea that somehow Stanley Donwood's cover for "Hail to the Thief" is itself wholly-original and not derivative of anything.

Here's the piece for those of you who have never seen it:

Now, in the early 20th century, there was this Swiss guy named Paul Klee who was an expressionistic artist, and he made all kinds of paintings which, today, people are still puzzling over. He's consider a great artist, and his work influences many people today -- that means they do stuff because his work has helped them see a way of expressing their craft which they didn't see before, or maybe they are trying to pay homage to Klee's work.

I bring it up because when I saw Donwood's CD cover, I had this flashback to 1988 when I was in Art History class and I saw this painting called "Castle and Sun". The painting is landscape-sized, but I have cropped it for comparison:

Listen: it seems transparent that Donwood was influenced by Klee -- and by other things as well, such as pop art and minimalism. That doesn't make him a thief, does it? Let me suggest that the person(s) who were influenced by Donwood to make the Third Day CD sleeve weren't thieves, either: they are graphic designers, and they simply adopted one design paradigm and used it for the CD cover.

That's how art works. That's how art works especially in our culture where art generally sells product. People who are in the business of doing that should know at least that much, especially when they are seeking to be allegedly "missional".