The Art of… Appropriation

Appropriation - Proenza Planters
Proenza Schouler Planters, 2012

Appropriation is the use of borrowed elements of preexisting objects with little or no transformation to create a new work. It can been found in all forms of art – from a musician sampling an old composition, or a milliner like Philip Treacy creating a new place for a lobster or soda cans atop a woman’s head – but it has been most popularized through the work of visual artists.

One of the first, and most celebrated, examples of appropriation in art came in the early 20th century with Dada artist’s Marcel Duchamp’s series of found, un-altered objects dubbed Readymades. Duchamp’s Readymades were classified into different categories depending on their complexity – Readymades, Assisted Readymades, Rectified Readymades, Corrected Readymades and Reciprocal Readymades. Fountain (pictured below) from 1917 is Duchamp’s most famous gesture of mockery, while a few years later in 1919 came his equally popularized Rectified Readymade, L.H.O.O.Q. (pictured below).

Appropriation - Duchamp Readymades
From Left: Fountain, 1917 and L.H.O.O.Q., 1919, both works by Marcel Duchamp

Appropriation - Warhol Campbell's Soup Can
Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962 by Andy Warhol

Since Duchamp, hundreds of other artists have utilized appropriation in their work. Andy Warhol capitalized on the iconic Campbell’s Soup Can (pictured above) throughout his career while Damien Hirst is the modern day king of appropriation by way of his work with butterflies and prescription pills (pictured below).

Appropriation - Hirst Pills
Lullaby, the Seasons Spring, 2002 by Damien Hirst

Hurricane Sandy has quarantined me to my apartment, forcing me to be crafty using found objects in my closet. Behold, my ode to appropriation in my new Proenza Schouler Planters (pictured at top), Alaia Trash Can and Chanel Piggy Bank (pictured below).

Appropriation - Alaia Trash Can
Alaia Trash Can, 2012

Appropriation - Chanel Piggy Bank
Chanel Piggy Bank, 2012

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