Appropriation is a popular modern art style which is formed around borrowing and re-working objects from every-day objects and pieces of art to create a new meaning from the original piece. Famous artists including Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp and Georges Braque are credited with starting this style of art.

Picasso introduced the physical lifting of objects into another by piecing cloth on a canvas in his work ‘Guitar, Newspaper, Glass and Bottle’ in 1913, incorporating aspects of the real world into the piece. Marcel Duchamp appropriated ready-made objects including his most famous piece, ‘Fountain,’ in 1917 where he displayed a urinal; this piece is also part of his Dada period and can be interpreted with the anger from this period of art. He also appropriated already existing art works including the ‘Mona Lisa’ which he drew a moustache on.

Other movements in art have used appropriation as a style including Fluxus, Pop Art and Surrealism, where the artists appropriated images and objects to form new meanings. Many artists have used appropriation to represent different meanings in many areas of society including; film, philosophy, power, gender and consumerism.

The modern day holds artists who use appropriation in their work including Damien Hurst who is one of the famous appropriators, however he has been argued to have copy-writed at times instead of just using the rules of appropriation. Other famous artists such as Andy Warhol who used the style in his Pop Art, has faced lawsuits over copywriting after appropriating images in his work and transforming them. However, his iconic ‘Campbell’s Soup’ painting in 1968 did not face any lawsuits, even though it is a clear image of a soup can from a business. Therefore the distinction between appropriation and copywriting is rather slim, but is a powerful tool in art.

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Written by Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones, studying Literature at Portsmouth University, with a passion for all things art and fashion, writer/reader/ editor/ artist/ dedicated shopper. Felicity looks after the Catwalk Yourself Art Dictionary.

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