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Art Inquisition: Recast, Transformed or Adapted?

Since Andy Warhol picked up a soup can the ’60s, appropriation has been A Thing in the art world. And as time plods on, we just keep making more art. And more art. And more art… until eventually that art might become a part of someone else’s art.

Here in Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center is hosting an entire exhibit entitled A Study in Midwest Appropriation.

In Grand Rapids, MI, artist David Dodde applied magnetic “stickers” to an iconic downtown sculpture as a part of ArtPrize, a local annual art exhibition and competition. The original sculpture,  “La Grande Vitesse” by Alexander Calder, is considered to be a symbol of the city and was among the first National Endowment for the Arts projects in its Art in Public Places program when it was installed in 1969.

After being selected (and subsequently de-selected) in an art competition sponsored by Missouri Bank, Kansas City artist Albert Bitterman has purchased billboard space to display his work featuring a man aiming a rifle at a Kansas City icon, a bronze statue of a Native American on horseback entitled “the Scout.”

London artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas is currently showing his work, in which he purchases and re-interprets contemporary Sri Lankan art “to match the aesthetic views of the western art world,” in an exhibit called When Platitudes Become Form.

What do you think? Is it OK to use someone else’s art in your own? Or as a part of the artwork itself? How much should the original be adapted to make it “yours”? What crosses the line into not-okay, rude, insensitive, wrong, or offensive? Are there some works, categories or topics that should be left alone, or are such adaptations merely a development of “nothing new under the sun”? Do you wish there were more original ideas instead of modifications to old ones, or do your best ideas come from the old ones? 

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. It appears on Wednesdays at 3pm ET… Make with the comments!


featured image: Michigan artist David Dodde’s “Fleurs et Riviere“. (Brian Kelly / ArtPrize / September 18, 2013)

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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