Artistic Appropriation

Appropriation is intentional borrowing

Appropriation in art and art history refers to the practice of artists taking a pre-existing image from another context—art history, advertising, the media, and creating a new image or object by combining or transforming the original.

Past and present

Many artists today work with appropriation but it is not an exclusively contemporary trend: Duchamp was using appropriation in his ready mades, Braque and Picasso in their collages, Andy Warhols' Campbells soup cans appropriate images from consumer products, Lichtensteins' comics, Eduardo Paolozzi's collages (shown here on the left), and many more.

In this example, Paolozzi used found images from advertising and the media, collaging them together to create a snapshot of the popular culture of the era (1948!), just as many contemporary "appropriation" artists do today, albeit using a variety of media and sophisticated technology. Think Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine, Christian Marclay - The Clock and have a look at New Video Art Visions for some (wild) video collages.

What is the difference between copying and appropriation?

Artistic appropriation presents the work, or the concept behind the work, in a new light. Copying is not about a new way of seeing an image, it is not being re interpreted or re contextualized. It is important for students to understand what constitutes derivative work ( i.e unimaginative copying or imitating) and what is a clever and original use of appropriation. For more on this topic go to Transcribing an Art Work and look at Inspired not Copied

Teachers should be aware of IBs policy on appropriation:

“The reproduction of another artist’s work either as a process for developing and honing skills, or to create another image through parody or pastiche has a long history in Western art, but presents significant challenges in the context of a university matriculation course where students are asked to declare that the work that they submit is their own…..

Where students choose to explore appropriation, pastiche, parody, détournement or homage in their art-making practices, teachers need to counsel them to choose imagery that comes from creative commons or public domain sources, or otherwise formal permission is sought. It is essential that the source of any original imagery is correctly attributed in their visual arts journal and in the accompanying exhibition text of any work submitted.”

-Quoted from advice on appropriation in art-making,  Academic Honesty in Visual Arts, OCC, IBO sure students understand Referencing and Citing Sources , including influences!

Read more about Originality of Student Work

Jean-Luc Godard said “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

Appropriation is a rich topic to explore in Tok and Art, try these questions to get the discussion going or assign them as journal reflections. Download in pdf format here ToK-and-Art-Questions on Appropriation

ToK and Art Questions

· How has technology blurred the boundaries of appropriation?

· When is appropriation of another artist’s work homage and when is it plagiarism?

· Can recycled and re-uploaded images be considered original work?

· Can you maintain ownership of an idea when it’s in the public domain?

· Find an example of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” artistic appropriation.

Discuss this Example:

Richard Prince re photographs images directly from advertisements in his Cowboy series from the 1980s; through the iconic figure of the "Marlboro man" he explores issues and stereotypes of American identity and freedom.

“At the end of the day, all I was left with was the advertising images, and it became my subject.”

I got a job in the tear-sheets department, ripping up magazines like People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time, and delivering the editorial pages.... I started looking at the ads very carefully.... So I began to use a camera to make fake photographs of the ads. By re-photographing a magazine page and then developing the film in a cheap lab, the photos came out very strange. They looked like they could be my photos, but they weren’t. -Richard Prince

Teaching idea: Appropriate an Ad

Choose an image from advertising that appeals to you and import it into photoshop, brushes, or other image manipulating software. You can then reconstruct the ad by zooming in, cropping, layering, changing the text, changing the colors, subtracting or adding to it. See if by altering the ad you can give it a different meaning altogether.

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