Appropriation in an artistic frame, is the borrowing, modifying and recreating of pre-existing objects and images. Stemming from the cubist creations seen in the vivid paintings of Picasso and Georges Braque (1912), the recontextualised content is used as a basis of artistic reincarnation, often radical in difference, but most frequently baring no or very little change in the final product. In the example of Georges Braque, who used newspaper cuttings as a means of a self-expression, he transformed the newspaper’s original purpose and introduced his own artistic narration.
The practice of appropriation was later developed even further by french artist Marcel Duchamp. Works such as the ready-made piece, ‘Fountain’, 1917, in which he plays with a pre-existing object, adding one simple addition in the form of a comedic signature. He then exhibited this object with theoretically engaging artistic presence, questioning the definition of art is what made the piece so captivating.
Duchamp’s approach also carries elements of comedy. A comical redesigning of the traditional values of art, often a thematic associated with the process of appropriation. Its practice also links strongly to pop art in the 1960’s and its attached postmodernist characteristics. Andy Warhol utilised appropriation in his work and it’s use was key to the unconventional formidability of his image making and its relevance to popular culture at that time.
The recreation of artwork, defined as appropriation, is apparent when borrowed elements, acquired from numerous sources, come together to create a newly-formed visual construction. However, a vast cloud of controversy shadows its practice. Most frequently concerning the authenticity, authorship and creative originality of the artwork. Appropriation induces a re-purposing of images, perhaps not intended by the previous creator, for the purpose of recontextualising its raw form. For some, this conceptual and controversial approach takes a more exciting and original motion, boldly challenging the definitive characteristics of art, but for others, it twists the traditional confinements of originality and is not so appealing.
The use of appropriation and its manipulative tendencies are profoundly conceptual. They boast a philosophically inquisitive challenging of art that steps ahead in the eyes of artistic progression. All of which are sufficiently sweetened by notions of discovery and narrative attributes, creating a focus on the changes applied to previous work and imagery. The process therefore seems a more open-minded approach to creating art. A method associated with the traits of both modernism and postmodernism that falls in to an extremely experimental and controversial grey area of artistic development.
Tate Online, “Appropriation”, 2015 [Viewed 5 Feb 2015]
Tate Online, “Modernism”, 2015 [Viewed 5 Feb 2015]
Tate Online, “Postmodernism”, 2015 [Viewed 5 Feb 2015]
Riggs, T, “Marcel Duchamp”, Tate Online, 1997 [Viewed 5 Feb 2015]
Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/marcel-duchamp-1036
Williams, J, J, “The ‘Contemporary’ Moment; How postmoderism became passé”, The Chronicle of Higher Education Journal, 2014, vol 61, iss 15
Smithsonian Institution. (1992) Marcel Duchamp. American Art Journal, iss:1 pg:107, Chicago University Press.