Essay by ashbash_the_awesomeHigh School, 10th gradeA+, January 2008

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Appropriation is an important historical movement and ideology in the Visual Arts. Going against the grain of society, it led people to question what the notion of art really was, as well as bringing up many other issues in the art community. In order to truly understand the significance of appropriation, we must first know about the basic ideas and history of the movement itself.

Appropriation is the means of borrowing components from other places in order to create something new. Images, techniques are used from other works of art, and mostly, the artwork attempts to reference or “quote” the previous artwork . The view on what is involved in appropriation is varied, some only recognise it as such if it references another artwork, while some believe it is appropriation if it incorporates things from other fields, like biology, science, or the media. It can also be argued that all types of art are appropriation art, because one is borrowing from nature, or using techniques found in other paintings.

Interestingly, the definition of Appropriation is almost as vague as the definition for art itself.

Some of the first examples of appropriation were Picasso and George Braque’s works in 1912, which involved collage, where the newspaper clippings and other items used were there to represent themselves. From then, Marcel Duchamp was at the forefront in using appropriation to radically change the perception of art as they knew it. In 1917, Duchamp got himself a urinal, turned it sideways, signed a fake name (R.Mutt), placed it in a gallery and called it art. He later stated that this was to test the “artistic freedom” which was supposedly a fundamental part of the Society Of Independent Artists, which he was involved in and had helped found. The artwork was rejected from...