Appropriating the work of others in postmodernism
2nd year BA in photography (contemporary practice)
hand in date: 13th December
Appropriation is another important sector in the postmodernist idea, using the work of other acclaimed artists and making it their own. Whether it is acceptable is a complicated discussion, but one this essay will resolve. The postmodern movement rebels against any type of categorisation, as it has many diverse forms in which it is depicted, such as film, music, fashion, dance and of course, art. Jane Pavitt, co-curator of the big autumn exhibition Postmodernism: style and subversion 1970-1990, explains that after three years conversing over it, the were able to create many different definitions for the postmodern movement. However in its moment, it defied categorisation and resisted authority. Many of its protagonists denied the movements existence (1. mark brown, 2011). Certain postmodern artists feature in appropriating the work of others and classifying it as their own, and this has inevitably created some minor controversy to whether it should be called authentic. This essay will discuss art as a commodity and conclude whether it is acceptable for some artists to replicate existing masterpieces.The Artist Jeff Koons appropriates the work of others, and also everyday iconic figures and this will be discussed in greater detail later. Also, Sherrie Levine created a series of images that were simply untouched photographs by illustrious art photographers such as Edward Weston and Walker Evans (2. Eleanor Heartney, 2001). This discussion will also look at other ways in which appropriation can prevail over existing images and or entities. The Key sources that will be used to reference from, will be the following: Frieze online magazine, Susan Moore in the Financial Times and Kate Taylor in The New York Times Eleanor Heartney in “Movements in modern art; Postmodernism”. These resources explain the reasons for Jeff Koons and Sherrie Levine to use appropriation and they also give detail as to why it is either wrong or right within the postmodern movement in this essay.
Jeff Koons is a postmodern artist that takes the shapes of everyday appliances and mass produced objects and redefines them as his own pieces of fine art. He borrows the shapes and makes direct appropriations with them, isolating them, usually suspended in an area with a lot of breathing space. Some people debate whether it should be celebrated as art, if his work is a direct appropriation, like his “String Of Puppies” (image 1) Image 1, Art Rogers’ original (top) and Jeff Koons appropriated sculpture “String Of Puppies”
sculpture used his “Banality” show at the Sonnabend Gallery in 1988. Some people see it as copyright infringement and have taken the artist to court for copyright violation. He has found himself in this predicament many times and comes out losing most of these defending cases (Kate Taylor, New York Times, 2011). It would appear that appropriating other people’s work into our own, could lead into expensive lawsuits if fresh and original message is not perceived clearly enough through the appropriated work created. The lawyer of Jeff Koons tried to defend the reasons for appropriating Art Rogers’ black-and-white photograph of a couple holding eight german shepherds, by claiming, “The sculpture was intended as a type of parody of the kind of trite, mass-produced sensibility that the photograph represented,” (Kate Taylor, New York Times, 2011, 16th paragraph)This was overlooked and Koons went on to lose the case. This would tell us that appropriation within postmodernism is still debated to this day, whether to be a commodity or piracy within the art world. So long as illustrious, wealthy artists get recognised for these types of reproductions of existing work, there may always be an interest to work within these methods. However, in...
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