Appropriation in art

Since 1912 the idea of intentionally borrowing, copying, and altering preexisting images and objects became more prevalent. This was called ‘appropriation’. Originating with the cubism movement, where they created collages and constructions of Picasso and Georges Braque. Braque Brought a piece of oak wallpaper and began using it within his drawings to create new collages in a way that makes us question the way that we experience the world.


Georges Braque, 1913, Nature morte (Fruit Dish, Ace of Clubs)

Since then this idea has been used and adapted into other artistic movements such as surrealism, modernism and pop art. In the mid 20th century this impacted consumerism in America and Britain. Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselman, and Roy Lichtenstein used everyday objects in their images as a way of representing the needs of everyday life. But by sampling these images and appropriating them within their work, questions were raised as to originality in the images.


Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, 1962. (Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm)

Appropriation literally means to take or make use without any authority or right. In a video called ‘Stop Copying Me – Appropriation in Art’ by Brian Reverman questions are raised on this matter, such as ‘Is it possible for an idea to be completely new?’, ‘Is new the same as original?’ and ‘Must art be original for it to be legitimate?’ And the quote below was mentioned:

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 16.39.19

In my opinion, I believe that any idea is new if it is represented in a different way than before. No matter how hard anyone tries to come up with an ‘original’ idea. It will have been done before. So by appropriating work, you are just taking something which you believe to be of value and reproducing it into something which is recognisable yet has a new meaning.

  • Moma, viewed 03.02.15
  • Reverman, Brian, ‘Stop Copying Me’ viewed 03.02.15
  • The Tate: viewed 03.02.15
  • Shore, Robert, “Post Photography- The Artist With a Camera” Laurence King Publishers, London, 2014

© Kirstie Wilkinson


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