25 September 2010

Appropriation in Art

A modern example of appropriation in art by Shepard Fairey


What is 'appropriation'?
"...a deliberate act of acquistion of something, often without the permission of the owner."

"To take possession of another's imagery ..., often without permission, reusing it in a context which differs from its original context, most often in order to examine issues concerning originality or to reveal meaning not previously seen in the original.  This is far more aggressive than allusion or quotation, it is not the same as plagiarism however."


A few appropriation artists...


Sherrie Levine
Levine photographed Walter Evans' photographers and held an exhibition using these 'new' images.

Website with more information and images:


Sarah Charlesworth
In this series, Charlesworth removed everything from the front page of newspapers, leaving just the pictures.



Barbara Kruger
Kruger's work uses old advertisements to express feminist ideas.



Richard Prince
 Original Marlboro ad by Jim Krantz
Prince's appropriation

Interview with Prince: 


Jeff Koons
From Koon's series of work where he appropriated the stories of Popeye.
(More info and image from: http://www.jeffkoons.com/site/index.html)


Andy Warhol
(Image and more images from: http://www.warholprints.com/Image.Gallery.html)


Cindy Sherman
 
"Sherman reveal gender as an unstable and constructed position, which suggests that there is no innate biological female identity."

Artist's website: http://www.cindysherman.com/



Before researching this post, I did not realise how often appropriation is used in art.  Yes, I had seen people 'copying' ideas of images or using 'reinventing' someone else's image to make a new one, but I had never heard of the term 'appropriation' or really fully understood what the 'copying' and 'reinventing' could produce.  Upon looking at these artists and some others, and although their works are appropriations, I would call each of these artist's works original.

Unlike within other genres of photography, the work from most of the artists I have looked at varies greatly within the 'genre' of appropriation.  Each has a unique and original way of copying and reproducing their work.  For example, while Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince copy other artists work and call it their own, Barbara Kruger and Sarah Charlesworth reinvent other artists work.  However, all use their appropriation work to express various different meanings.

I think that artists use appropriation in their work as a way of helping to emphasis the statement that they are trying to make.  Most have a statement that is relevant to society, so by being able to use imagery that the public recognises, they are able to get the attention and the message that they wish to make across to the viewer.  For example, Barbara Kruger uses old (e.g. 1950s) advertisements and then 'reinvents' them to make her, usually, feminist statements known.  Another example is the work of Sherrie Levine.  She 're-used' Walter Evans images in order to get the audience to reconsider the nature of photography.  I think in these cases, and most other appropriation works, the use of other artists' work in your own work is justified.



Further reading:
An article on the topic of appropriation:

A list and review of eight post-modern (some appropriation) photographers' works:

Blogs on appropriation in art:

Slideshow with information about appropriation in art:

Article - "Great Artist's Steal"



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