Thursday, December 13, 2007

Appropriation (art)

To appropriate something involves taking possession of it. In the visual arts, the term appropriation often refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of new work. The borrowed elements may include images, forms or styles from art history or from popular culture, or materials and techniques from non-art contexts. Since the 1980s the term has also referred more specifically to quoting the work of another artist to create a new work. The new work may or may not alter the original.

Aspects of appropriation appear in nearly all areas of visual art history if one considers the basic act of making art as the borrowing of images or concepts from the surrounding world and re-interpreting them into artwork. For example, some might classify Leonardo da Vinci as an appropriation artist, because he used recombinant methods of appropriation, borrowing from sources as diverse as biology, mathematics, engineering and art, and then synthesizing them into inventions and artworks.

Some art historians regard Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque as the first to appropriate items from a non-art context into their work. In 1912, Picasso pasted a piece of oil cloth onto the canvas. Subsequent compositions, like Guitar, Newspaper, Glass and Bottle (1913) in which Picasso used newspaper clippings to create forms, became categorized as synthetic cubism. The two artists incorporated aspects of the "real world" into their canvases, opening up discussion of signification and artistic representation.

Five years later, in 1917, Marcel Duchamp introduced the idea of the readymade. That year he entered Fountain into the American Society of Independent Artists exhibition. The work consisted of a urinal, lying on its side atop a pedestal with the signature "R. Mutt". The urinal appeared neither original nor rare, Duchamp's "creativity" as an artist lies in the gesture of selecting the urinal as an art piece and displaying it in an artistic context. Duchamp also went so far as to use existing art in his work, appropriating an apparent copy of the Mona Lisa into his piece, L.H.O.O.Q. Recent speculation regarding Duchamp's appropriated urinal claimed that the urinal was "non-standard" and "non-functional," and that Duchamp "allegedly custom-designed it along with his other supposed readymades,"[citation needed] however, this has never been substantiated.

The Dada movement (including Duchamp as an associate) continued with the appropriation of everyday objects, but their appropriation did not attempt to elevate the "low" to "high" art status, rather it produced art in which chance and randomness formed the basis of creation. Dada artists included Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Jean Arp, Hans Richter, Richard Huelsenbeck, Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara, and Francis Picabia. A reaction to oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society, Dada works featured deliberate irrationality and the rejection of the prevailing standards of art. Kurt Schwitters, who produced art at the same time as the Dadaists, shows a similar sense of the bizarre in his "merz" works. He constructed these from found objects, and they took the form of large constructions that later generations would call installations.
The Surrealists, coming after the Dada movement, also incorporated the use of "found" objects such as Méret Oppenheim's Object (Luncheon in Fur) (1936). These objects took on new meaning when combined with other unlikely and unsettling objects.

In the 1950s Robert Rauschenberg used what he dubbed "combines", literally combining readymade objects such as tires or beds, painting, silk-screens, collage, and photography. Similarly, Jasper Johns, working at the same time as Rauschenberg, incorporated found objects into his work. Johns also appropriated symbolic images such as the American flag or the "target" symbol into his work.

The Fluxus art movement also utilised appropriation: its members blended different artistic disciplines including visual art, music, and literature. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s they staged "action" events, engaged in politics and public speaking, and produced sculptural works featuring unconventional materials. The group even appropriated the postal system in developing mail art. The performances sought to elevate the banal by appropriating it as "art" and dissembling the high culture of serious music.

Along with artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol appropriated images from commercial art and popular culture as well as the techniques of these industries. Often called "pop artists", they saw mass popular culture as the main vernacular culture, shared by all irrespective of education. These artists fully engaged with the ephemera produced from this mass-produced culture, embracing expendability and distancing themselves from the evidence of an artist's hand.
The term appropriation art came into common use in the 1980s with artists such as Sherrie Levine, who addressed the act of appropriating itself as a theme in art. Levine often quotes entire works into her own, for example photographing photographs of Walker Evans. Challenging ideas of originality, drawing attention to relations between power, gender and creativity, consumerism and commodity value, the social sources and uses of art, Levine plays with the theme of "almost same".

During the 1970s and 1980s Richard Prince re-photographed advertisements such as for Marlboro cigarettes or photo-journalism shots. Prince's work spoke to issues of materialism and the idea of spectacle over lived experience.
Appropriation artists may comment on more than just commercial or "low" culture. Joseph Kosuth appropriated images to engage with philosophy and epistemological theory. Other artists working during this time with appropriation included Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, and Malcolm Morley.

The nature of appropriation art, the borrowing of elements for new work, brings up a number of contentious copyright issues. One debate addresses the extent to which appropriation art has sufficient originality. In the case of appropriation the appropriating artist copies the expressive form (as opposed to merely the idea) of the original work. A number of case-law examples have emerged that investigate the division between transformation of a work and simple derivation of a work.

copied from:

for more information see:

No comments: