Throughout history, the issue of appropriation in art has become a heated debate on whether it is good or whether it is bad. Appropriation is fundamentally the act of taking something from somewhere else and placing it into a new context. In art, appropriation is seen as using (or taking) someone else’s artwork, manipulating it and ultimately changing the whole meaning behind the work. It is seen as a significant issue as many people (including art critics, art historians and art enthusiasts) see appropriation as whilst, others see it as being inappropriate and immoral, and see the growth in appropriation as being a destroyer of art.
It is of the opinion that art indeed “feeds off itself” and every artwork, art movement, and art period is influenced and shaped by those before it. Artists throughout history have been using each other’s works to portray different meanings, however, it is only know that its use is being questioned on whether it is original or just a “carbon copy” of another work. There are a number of artists that are considered “Appropriation Artists”. Some of these artists include Marcel Duchamp, Yasumasa Morimura, and Maria Kozic.
Such artists as Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci have inspired these artists to the extent that they have used the “Great Artists'” actual artworks in their own works. Appropriation seemed to have flourished in the 1980’s and was a very popular technique to use in commercial and advertisement. For this reason the Pop Art Movement (that was most popular in the 1950’s and 60’s) can also be seen as an excellent instance of appropriation, with the help of such artists as Clause Oldenberg, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichenstein, who appropriated everyday items and made them into works of art.
These artists believe that their works are like a form of homage to another artist. It is their way of learning more about the artists on how he works, operates, and practices. The issue on whether appropriation is a good or bad thing is dependent on ones view of art. Those who are familiar with Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” may know Marcel Duchamp’s appropriated version of the great piece. He took an actual replica of the work and placed a bold, black mustache and beard on the famous lady’s face. Many saw this act as a form of vandalism and were disgusted on the way Duchamp violated such a treasure.
However, oblivious to them was Duchamp’s way of expressing his way of decreasing the high art status of the work and also suggesting Da Vinci’s sexual ambiguity. Subjectively, this work of Duchamp’s is an insult to one of the finest artists and artworks in history, and should be considered as a form of vandalism. His work is mocking Da Vinci and ridiculing the talents of the great man. Though there is no limit to art, the question “When is it actually art, and when is it stealing and vandalising” still arises. Despite this fact, some appropriation artworks are very clever and interesting.
Pablo Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” was appropriated for an advertisement for Australian Air Express. Their ingenious way of including their logo, which is synonymous to them, into the painting, is very clever. It seems as if it is actually part of the painting and it matches the painting perfectly (unlike Duchamp’s). One of the most well known appropriator is Yasumasa Morimura. He has appropriated a number of artworks from a number of artists. His “Daughter of Art History Theatre A, 1989” is an appropriation of Edouard Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1881-2”, and his “Futago, 1988” is Manet’s “Olympia, 1863).
He doesn’t seem to change much, however he loves to reproduce artworks in which he can replace the women in them with himself. Though his works are similar to Manets’, they are also very different; his version of “Olympia” has much more detail, is brighter, and more modernized than the original. This then supports the idea that appropriation is indeed not a form of stealing and vandalism, but a form of expressing your understanding of certain things. The belief that art “feeds off itself” is a question that supports appropriation. Andy Warhol (Pop Artist) appropriated Campbell’s Soupcans a number of times to create a number of works.
His most famous one being “Campbell’s Soup, 1965”. A few years later, Maria Kozic (Australian Artist) used Warhol’s work to create her own. She shattered the “Campbell’s Soup” imaged to create her own work which she called “Masterpieces (Warhol), 1986”. As seen, this is a great example of how one idea can reproduced throughout history and has a new meaning everytime it is created. In conclusion, as shown through numerous deliberations and discussions, it is seen that the topic of appropriation in the world of art is a very significant and important issue. It is a very significant issue as it has both positive and negative perspectives.
It can be seen as another form or movement of art, like cubism or expressionism, or it can be seen as a form of stealing and vandalism. Due to this, appropriation in visual art is a very significant issue. Through the many artists who have used other artists’ famous works to emulate their view (like Duchamp’s debatable appropriation of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”), to artworks being used to advertise products (like Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” in Australian Air Express Advertisements), the question of whether appropriation is art or whether it is vandalism is actually dependent on individuals themselves and from their understanding of art.
It is of the opinion that there is a limit to when appropriation is art, to when it is wrong and immoral, but it depends on what is being appropriated, how it is being appropriated, what is the new meaning going to be. The amount of discussion and debates on the issue of appropriation therefore makes it a very significant issue in the world of Visual Arts.