Seminal work  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A seminal work is a work from which other works grow. The term usually refers to an intellectual or artistic achievement whose ideas and techniques have been adopted or responded to in later works by other people, either in the same field or in the general culture.

A seminal work does not have to be a financial nor a critical success. For example, upon its release, The Velvet Underground’s 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico failed in both categories. An often-repeated statement, usually attributed to Brian Eno or Peter Buck, is that "the first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band." Today, the album is considered one of the greatest ever.

A seminal work should not be confused with a magnum opus, which refers to the greatest work of a single individual, and not necessarily to that which has inspired the most work by others. For example, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon can be described correctly as a seminal work of Cubism. But this would not prevent one from calling another work of Picasso's, such as Guernica, his magnum opus.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Seminal work" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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