For this assignment we had to look at ‘Appropriation Art’ and how artists have incorporated the work of others into their own work and how this affects the meaning of the piece. In order to do this we had to choose three examples of work in which the work of others had been incorporated and three examples that appropriates, copies or references everyday objects and reuses them as works of fine art.
For the incorporated work I chose to look at
- Banksy’s “Show me the Monet”
- Jane Perkins “Marilyn Monroe”
- Jocelyne Grivaud’s “Barbie as Le violon d’Ingres”
For the work that appropriates, copies or references everyday objects, I chose
- David Hockney’s “Room 229 Palmdale Calif. 11th April 1986”
- Marcel Duchamp’s “Trebuchet (Trap) 1917”
- Jason Fulford’s image from the Hotel Oracle collection
After looking trying to annotate Jason Fulford’s image, I decided that the image was not appropriate for this assignment so I chose to use Domenic Bahmann’s “Music to My Ears” instead as I felt that the image was a lot stronger and related more to appropriation art.
Examples where the work of others is incorporated
Banksy- “Show me the Monet”
When Claude Monet originally painted the image, I don’t think there was any clear intention other than to document the garden that he had worked so hard to achieve. The series of paintings he created of his garden were made in the last 30 years of his life while he was also suffering from cataracts so I suppose by painting his garden he was able to still paint but without having to go so far to do so.
In his book Wall and Piece, Banksy says “if you want to survive as a graffiti writer when you go indoors I figured your only option is to carry on painting over things that don’t belong to you there either”. I think that Banksy is showing us a reflection of current times and how, even though people work so hard to create things of beauty there is always someone who wants to spoil it. It is a very simple yet effective composition. Although Banksy has added very little to the original painting it has a very strong impact. By using the stark orange, the trolleys and traffic cone stand out well against the greens of the original painting. To me there is also an aspect of consumerism, the orange of the trolleys immediately makes me think of Sainsbury’s, however I also feel that if Banksy had chosen to use Tesco blue or Asda green these wouldn’t have worked as well.
Jane Perkins- “Marilyn Monroe”
When Andy Warhol originally created his Marilyn Monroe image, his original intention was to show society’s obsession with fame and famous people. Warhol was intrigued by the American royalty status given to movie stars and celebrities. Warhol actually painted the image after Marilyn’s death as he wanted to make the point that after her death she became more of a commercial franchise then a person.
I think that Jane Perkins has created a very sympathetic remake of this famous painting and by using recycled and found objects; she has also made a strong and important statement about mass consumption and consumerism. It takes Perkins around three months to create each piece as she painstakingly chooses pieces that match the colours of the original paintings and photographs that she recreates. I feel that Perkins adds a new dimension to the original image without taking anything away from it. It also highlights Warhol’s original point that Marilyn became more of a brand/ commercial franchise after her death as she is still seen as very iconic and even now you are able to buy so many things that bear her image and name.
Jocelyne Grivaud- “Barbie as Le Violon d’Ingres”
Man Ray’s original intention for his photograph “Le violon d’Ingres” was to recreate the paintings of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres who painted languorous nudes. Man Ray used brushstrokes to turn his model, Kiki’s body into an instrument to make the image more humourous. He also added these marks to pay tribute to Ingres and his love of playing the violin just as Man Ray loved toying with Kiki. The image also showed the tension between the objectification and appreciation of the female form.
Jocelyne Grivaud has always been in awe of Barbie and wanted to pay tribute to the doll that gave her so much as a child. I think that by recreating famous paintings and photographs with the famous doll, Grivaud has been able to bring Barbie to a more mature audience and create a long lasting tribute. Grivaud has made sure to keep her replicant very close to the original image which helps to convey it well and given new life to Barbie as something more than just a toy. I think that if she had created it in full colour or tried to make it more like a stereotypical Barbie image, it could be seen to be mocking the original. By recreating this image, it also gives Barbie a more risqué and adult fantasy element to her.
Examples of work where everyday objects have been appropriated, copied or referenced
David Hockney- “Room 229 Palmdale Calif. 11th April 1986”
With this image I think that Hockney is trying to convey beauty and invoke interest in everyday life and mundane objects and perhaps giving the viewer a glimpse into his life of travelling. I think that by creating a photomontage as opposed to taking a single image, Hockney has been able to add interest and texture to what would be considered a mundane image if it had been taken as a single image. I like that the beds look very flat, this is mainly down to the position that the image was taken from and although the image was taken nearly 30 years ago because of the way it was taken it is still very relevant and translates well to the present day, if it had been taken as a single shot I think that it would appeared more dated today.
Marcel Duchamp- “Trébuchet (Trap) 1917”
As described in the book, this piece is a readymade of a wood and metal coat rack nailed to a wooden floor. By backlighting the image, it helps to convey the shape of a coat rack and add to the simplicity of the image. The colours have been kept very simple which helps to show the detail in the coat rack and not bombard the viewer. I think that the artist is trying to convey the simplicity and beauty in everyday objects which is often missed, when the coat rack was made, it was obviously designed to look more intricate and stylish then just a plain coat rack. I also think that the proportions in the image have been well thought through as the object takes up most of the frame which allows the viewer to focus on the subject without any unnecessary distractions such as empty spaces and other objects.
Domenic Bahmann- “Music to My Ears”
Domenic Bahmann is an Australian designer who creates miniature arrangements of recognisable symbols using everyday day objects. He creates each piece to be either a self-contained joke or a statement.
I see this piece as more of a simple yet powerful statement which can be viewed in either a cynical or optimistic way. It can be seen as cynical as younger viewers in particular would probably relate more to the iPhone headphones then they would to the treble clef note and it also serves as a reminder that music is rarely written in this way nowadays and is more computerised. The optimistic view is that it suggests the evolution of music, from handwritten music from centuries ago which was performed to a crowd to the way we listen to music now, sometimes listening to classical music. It can also make the viewer try to envision how much more music will evolve.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this assignment as it has given me the opportunity to look at the work of artists that I would not have normally looked at or thought to look at. I enjoyed exploring the original artist’s intentions and how a simple choice could make a world of difference to an image either enhancing it or changing it completely.
I have learnt that attempting to interpret an artist’s intentions is a tricky business as it is so subjective by definition. Where I was able to find written testimony from the artist such as the Man Ray-Grivaud images, it warped my original interpretation of the Barbie image from a generic “nice picture” to that of a risqué and sensual piece. Where I was left to attempt to guess at the artist’s intention, as in the work by Banksy, I could perceive several interpretations. Ranging from the cynical to the optimistic. In the process I found that it gave me a deeper appreciation of the artist and enabled me to look at each piece of art in a new light.
My chosen examples of everyday objects which have been appropriated, copied or referenced were more open to interpretation and sometimes the artist’s intention was not very clear. I found Hockney’s and Bahmann’s images were easier to interpret but this is certainly due to my being able to relate well with the subject matter, whereas Duchamp’s image, to me, was more mundane and I often found myself wondering why he had chosen a coat rack as opposed to something a little more interesting.
The assignment came to the very nub of art. What is “good” and what is “bad”?! The answer of course is that an individual relates to an artistic piece on a deeply personal level. The artist usually has an intention in mind for what they want the audience to think, feel, and say about their work. Whether or not they will be successful or not is difficult to judge and perhaps the artist doesn’t care if their art is liked or hated. In an open society, this leads to the vast array of different styles of art which can be enjoyed today.
Banksy- Wall and Piece published 2006
Hockney’s Pictures published 2012 pg. 107 Thames & Hudson
Marcel Duchamp by Gloria Moure Published in 1988 by Thames & Hudson
Hotshoe magazine Spring 2014 pg. 16 (Jason Fulford image which was later not used)