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History and Meaning of Appropriation in Western Art

In art, appropriation refers to using pre-existing objects or images that have undergone little to no transformation. In the history of the arts, appropriation has played a significant role in developing art and its continuation. Over the past few years, some museums and art galleries have accepted art appropriation practices. This fact challenged the conventional conception that museums are considered repositories of culture and contributed to creating a dialogue with the audience. As a result, the public began to think about art issues. Museums strive to be new museums of novelty, and not just another museum or art, based on which they go even further, adhering to the tradition of the art of appropriation. This paper investigates the copyright consequences of museums’ participation in this form of the creative appropriation process.

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Appropriation is a popular and traditionally admitted art element that museums demonstrate and acquire nowadays, ranging from the collages of Picasso and Braque to pop art and postmodern art. Nevertheless, comprehension of several copyright laws that may limit these cultural institutions’ activities has become especially essential. Two essential points warrant further exploration within this context: the copyright requirements before and after an appropriated artwork passes through a museum or gallery doors.

It may be argued that appropriation artists are plagiarists, that by taking credit for a re-photograph, they are claiming someone else’s work as their own. If this is the case, the appropriation artist will seem to have committed the same mistake as the forger: misrepresenting achievement. However, since appropriation artists are open about their practices, they have not asserted any achievements that are not their own, so this complaint appears to be moot.

Whereas Van Meegeren’s primary aim had been to deceive the masses, the appropriation artist’s goal is not to deceive the public. Such an artist can have a wide range of creative objectives, and it seems that viewers are supposed to assess – to view or analyze – the work in part based on these goals. Although some may argue that Duchamp’s Fountain is not art, those critics would have difficulty proving their point. The fountain was named the most important work of art of the twentieth century in a 2004 poll.

Some enthusiasts of art may object to art appropriation. Unlike forging art, deceit is not at the heart of appropriating art, and the appropriator does not appear to misinterpret his works. Appropriation art has many unanswered questions, such as the difference between art and craft, art ontology, the relationship between morality and art, and some of the most central and essential artistic issues. A few developments in Western art forced aestheticians to reinvent the idea of art. The invention of photography, the rise of post-Impressionists, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Duchamp’s Fountain, and the appropriation of art look peculiar in many ways. It is interesting, that while appropriation art has gained and continues to gain considerable attention among artists, art theorists have primarily avoided it. The moral right of the appropriation artist should be upheld.

In its broadest sense, art occurs in all cultures, and non-art objects can be transformed into works of art by artistic appropriation. One of the requirements for inclusion in the category of artworks is that it was produced to serve a specific cultural function in which it reflects or otherwise conveys meaning or that it has assumed that role over time. It is a telic question of whether something is an artwork, without reference to the circumstances in which it was created or the idea it reflects or otherwise sends.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'History and Meaning of Appropriation in Western Art'. 26 July.

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