Image Appropriation


Take (something) for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.
“the accused had appropriated the property”
synonyms: seize, commandeer, expropriate, annex, arrogate, sequestrate, sequester, take possession of, take over, assume, secure, acquire, wrest, usurp, claim, lay claim to, hijack.

The definitions makes it sound so harsh and derogatory, yet in the past hundred years appropriation has become a medium within the art world, particularly in the contemporary art field, artist’s including Picasso, Rauschenberg  and Sigmar Polke have used it in their work and even if we look back to at Duchamps ‘Fountain’ we see appropriation. It comes in different forms including ready mades, but also images which are manipulated by the artists, and or worked from, for instance the Painter Luc Tuymans, who’s painting come from previously recorded images, working from photographs, films and television – “Events and ideas are not expressed explicitly, but implied through subtle hints and allusions, creating an ambiguous collage of disconnected fragments and details.” his paintings appear like ghostly versions of their predecessors .


This rather controversial painting of Issei Sagawa, a Japanese man who murder and consume parts of a fellow student in paris. The portrait is a response to a  photograph pf Sagawa as a child, featured in a documentary about Sagawa .

Luc Tuymans Dares Painting to Lose

Another example, more in tune with the way in which i am currently working is John Baldessari, working with popular imagery which find themselves within the public realm, over laying and placing them together to suggest a new narrative, in addition manipulating the image by cropping and working over with different media.


i think one of the key things i notice within the realm of appropriation is this act of selection i think when discussing Richard Prince i touched on this question of selection, theres something fascinating about this semi conscious selection process. with works like John Baldessari there it is easier to see in some works the relationship of the imagery and how they might have become works, but it that pre cognitive moment when your eye is caught by something, no specific thing drawing you to it apart from your own personal preference.


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