Over the last few decades, the practice of radically appropriating works of other artists has become common. The central tenet in appropriation art is to incorporate ideas and images from mass media, popular culture, advertising, and from other artists into a new work. Indeed, appropriating art is not new since borrowing from other artists is an age-old practice. For instance, painters have regularly repainted the paintings of other artists with an aim of exploring the application of their artistic style in a familiar art. However, photographing another artist’s work and claiming the authorship of the work without acknowledging the original artists poses a serious challenge to the idea of authorship. Incorporating other artists’ work into a new work is the central element of modern appropriation art.
Nothing is original these days, we live in a postmodern society that is continuously reusing, revising or reproducing existing ideas, thoughts concepts and images. Originality implies a lack of outside influence but we are humans and as such we cannot avoid interacting with each other and we cannot avoid the visual and auditory stimuli that we encounter in our daily lives. With that in mind the notion of originality becomes a paradox in itself. All claims of innovation and individuality during the design process are misguided because artists are always consciously or unconsciously deconstructing and reconstructing existing elements into new configurations.
The deliberate reuse or modification or manipulation of preexisting work is known in the art world as appropriation art; its history stemming from the Avant Garde practice of using ‘found’ objects as raw materials for collages, photomontage and other such works. Picasso who once said “bad artists copy. Good artists steal” Famously appropriated motfis from African carvers . (Young)
The practice of appropriation has elicited intense debate about the extent of artistic freedom to express ideas and intellectual property protection in artistic context. One the one hand, the authorship of appropriation art can be questioned due to the inclusion of other artists work, sometimes without any alteration. In the traditional concept of art, artists are held responsible for every element of their artistic creativity. Accordingly, any piece of art is interpreted with respect to the artist’s intention and innovation.
One of the most famous and widely known examples of 20th century appropriation art is the all too familiar "Fountain", a rotated urinal from 1917 by Dada artist Marcel Duchamp. (Image 1) Creating nothing short of a scandal, "Fountain" was originally a work that was submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists who aptly excluded it even though the only requirement for exhibition was a small fee which Duchamp paid.
In the process of being rejected by the exhibition the question of what actually constitutes art was finally taking form. The urinal was not something the...