Identical, But Still Different : On Artistic Appropriation in Visual Art

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Philosophy

Abstract: In this dissertation about artistic appropriation I acknowledge that something indeed has happened in art. Visual art does not have to look in any special way anymore, or have historically validated content that can be visually grasped. Within this precondition artistic appropriation is situated. An artistic appropriation artwork is visually identical to a pre-existing artwork, but is still an independent artwork that is about something other than what the pre-existing artwork is about.The dissertation ties into, and separates itself from, two discussions: On the one hand, a discussion about the difference between a mere thing and an artwork that looks exactly like it. Duchamp’s Fountain is an example; it looks exactly like an ordinary urinal. On the other, the various ways artists have used pre-existing art throughout history to make new art. One historical example is the paraphrase. Previously, there has been no sufficient discussion about artists who make artworks that look exactly like pre-existing artworks and what this artistic practice says about the identity of art. I argue that artistic appropriation unveils the constitution of the artwork. In chapter one, a definition of artistic appropriation is introduced. Then there follows a discussion regarding previous research about appropriation and closely related concepts like adaptation and intertextuality. In chapter two, artistic appropriation is situated in relation to the historical avant-garde and later changes that made conceptual art possible. Present is also a discussion about how artistic appropriation both challenges and affirms traditional notions in art, such as originality, authorship and creativity. In chapter three there is a discussion about three artistic appropriators and their work: The artists are Elaine Sturtevant, Sherrie Levine and Michael Mandiberg. They must be understood in relation to a different set of backgrounds, which means that their artworks emerge differently.

  This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.