Blog Post 2: Re: Appropriation

Hi everyone,

Our texts for Wednesday bring a range of social issues and questions to bear on the process of appropriation and recontextualization we started to think about with Duchamp last week — as artists, Warhol, Levine, and Prince are using appropriation to explore questions of consumerism, gender, sexuality, race, and the culture of mass media itself, among other issues. So for this week’s analytical post, you should do some thinking and writing about some of the different processes of appropriation at work in what these artists are doing and what specific cultural questions are raised by those processes and the works they produce.

Focus your post around the work of one artist: you should cite and closely discuss a few of their artworks and some of the textual material on them in order to think through their work in a larger cultural context. What material you choose to focus on is up to you, but take a look at what others have posted before you start writing — it would be great to cover as much different material as possible, so if you see that someone has already posted on material you were thinking of, try to take the discussion in a different direction.

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click on the link near the top of this post where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 300 words, and is due by midnight Tuesday, September 12. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

20 thoughts on “Blog Post 2: Re: Appropriation”

  1. Of the artists we studied this week, I found Richard Prince the most provocative. His photography of Marlboro ads in the 80s pre-empted the internet’s fascination of stock photos. Plenty of internet users do the same sorting process of Prince to find either goofy or memeable pictures, such as the current hit of “guy staring at girl while with another girl”. The Time documentary showed how his Untitled (Cowboy) photos annoyed the true photographers, yet no one hears the stock photographers complain when one of their works goes viral. It seems Prince’s democratization of art, where “the artist is the observer, or mirror holder” as one of the critics in the Time video puts it, has been internalized by the average internet user. Which is why it is fascinating that internet users are furious about his Instagram inkjets. The appropriation of free, public, but slightly personal photos on Instagram is somehow more provocative than the appropriation of photos made to make money to the same internet users that share memes without crediting the original artist. Personally, I think the frustration is less with the photos used (though those of vulnerable, slightly-naked girls are creepy) and with both Prince’s creepy comments and that the cropping always features the original poster’s name. If these were anonymous photos of vulnerable people, they would seem less creepy. By attributing their screennames to the inkjets themselves, the original person’s privacy is completely lost and a much larger audience can find him or her. One last comment on Prince: it is very ironic that he should disown one of his pieces of work. To state the obvious, he is a man who raised another’s “art” through his own appropriation and then tried to devalue a piece by claiming said piece was not by him; as if his name was giving the piece the value and nothing else. It reignites old artistic debates of whether it is the art itself that is valuable, or the name it is attached to, but for the digital generation.

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  2. Out of the three artists we looked at for next class, I too was the most intrigued by Prince’s work. While I think I my observations can be applied to every one of the pieces in question, a personal anecdote of my dad’s drew me to the Marlborough ad reproductions. One story that he often tells people involves his previous job doing stock photography. He photographed a field of wheat and sold the image, which of course means it was no longer his to make a profit off of. Years later, he happened upon an advertisement for Monsanto, the “agricultural biotechnology corporation”, in which this photo had been used. My dad does not respect that corporation or their practices in the slightest, and was upset to learn that he had indirectly helped promote them by taking that picture. I was reminded of this story when I watched the Time video about Prince. There was a point at which he mentions that the people who took the photographs he reproduces more or less gave up ownership of them when they submitted them to be used in the Marlborough ads. I think the implication was that they weren’t necessarily in their rights to be upset about how their photos continued to be used. Even though someone else was making a lot of money from their work without their explicit permission, one could argue that it was “their loss” for choosing to sell the photographs in the first place. I understand that the situation is more complicated than that, since Marlborough paid the photographers, but Prince did not pay Marlborough. But even then, shouldn’t it technically be Marlborough that has the right to be angry about his ad reproductions, as opposed to the photographers? As a matter of fact, if we’re buying into Barthes’ assertions about the death of the author, then Prince simply could not have stolen anyone’s work, because a dead author, even a metaphorically dead one, leaves nobody to steal from in the first place.

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  3. The same things happen everyday—things like people having lunch, people dying, and people having sex. My understanding is that Andy Warhol aimed to create art that reflected life. In an interview with G.R. Swenson, Warhol shares his views on what art should represent, who should make art, and why he has made the art he has.
    First, in response to the notion that all creativity must be original, the artist claims that “Everybody’s always being creative.” According to Warhol, pop art isn’t about being different from everyone else; it’s about “liking things”. In other words, if you like something, who cares if everyone else likes it too? There’s a reason for that. For example, many Americans like Campbell’s soup; Warhol had it for lunch every day for twenty years, and that is exactly why he turned the image into art. “Somebody said my life has dominated me; I liked that idea,” says Warhol on the subject.
    Pop songwriters write lyrics about love and struggle over and over again, but people still continue to like pop. Some say it’s not good music, but who cares? Although themes are recycled, they are recycled, because people often have the same experiences as other people. Warhol states, “Everybody looks alike and acts alike, and we’re getting more and more that way.”
    One part of life most adults have in common is sex; we need it to perpetuate the human race. In the interview, Warhol reveals that his next series will be pornographic pictures. He addresses the debate over whether or not pornography can be deemed art, implying that people become too protective of art. “When you read Genȇt, you get all hot,” he says, “and that makes some people say this is not art.” Considering Warhol sees art in anything one can find in everyday life, one could understand why he would be in favor of pornography as art. “The thing [he likes] about it is that it makes you forget about style and that sort of thing; style isn’t really important,” he says.
    Art, however, isn’t just about liking things. Death happens everyday, yet next to nobody likes death. What makes death an appropriate subject for pop art, though, is its universality. One of Warhol’s images shows a plane crash with the words “129 DIE IN JET” written in bold letters. In response to the concept of gruesome images portraying death, the artist states, “I believe in it. Did you see the Enquirer this week? It had ‘The Wreck that Made Cops Cry’—a head cut in half, the arms and hands just lying there. It’s sick, but I’m sure it happens all the time.” Through artistic images, Warhol argues, we should embrace that which happens everyday, even if the images are horrifying ones.

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  4. The work of Sherrie Levine struck an interesting chord with me. Upon first viewing and reading about her work, I was quickly tempted to agree with the critics who claim she lacks conviction and creativity. In the article “Sherrie Levine” Francis M Naumann writes about how Levine recreated Duchamp’s “Fountain,” “…an edition of six highly polished bronze urinals, each of which were positioned—as was the original when recorded by Stieglitz’s camera in 1917.” Levine’s work and Duchamp’s were positioned in the same way, created by the same manufacturer and Levine quite literally titled her eight recreations, “Fountain (After Duchamp: 1)” and then 2, 3, 4 etc. Levine’s recreation seemed to go beyond appropriation and infringed on copying, yet Naumann writes how Levine’s recreation, “…did more to renew an interest in his work than—arguably—any other artist of her generation.” In understanding that her recreation paid tribute and reminded spectators how great of an artist Duchamp was, the process stemmed away from most types of appropriation that will copy the artist, but don’t necessarily value them. Naumann writes, “…Levine’s appropriations can be read in the form of an homage.” I think the skepticism surrounding the appropriation of traditional artwork stems from the fear that all the appreciation and “homage” for that original artist and artwork will be lost. Yet, this is what makes Levine’s process so fascinating because her appropriation so closely resembles the original work that it both reminds and pulls people back to its origins, while pushing people forward to rethink those origins.

    There were some minute differences in her work that added other elements to her process. For example, in the picture of her recreated” Fountain” the urinals are bronze and very shiny. To me, there seemed to be some mockery in the way she over polished the urinals. Naumann writes how these changes result, “…in a more pronounced feminist reading of the work.” These little differences are actually quite thought provoking and lead to some bigger questions as to the functionality and purpose of urinals and the broader implications of gender and society (to name a few).

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  5. For this week’s readings I found Richard Prince to be the most compelling. I understand the natural backlash that Prince faces in the art community—at a first glance Prince is a plagiarist: a title, in a community that covets individuality, that brings rightful scorn. This reaction is understandable—Prince is provocative, but not frivolously provocative—the nature of his plagiaristic work serves to inspire deeper conversation and analysis that further enhance his “art” and place it onto an entirely different plane than one might consider simple copying and pasting.
    Arthur Danto gets to the crux of the importance of Prince’s work when he writes, “I then declared that works of art are embodied meanings” (Wakeful Dreams, 37). This idea that there is an intrinsic deeper meaning behind an artist’s appropriation can be extrapolated onto Prince. Take for instance Prince’s work Untitled (Cowboy): Prince did not take the photo of the cowboy that appeared in the original Marlboro ad, but did take the revised photograph of the photograph, choosing to omit the aspects of Marlboro’s ad campaign. Here, Prince is speaking to Danto’s concept of “embodied meanings.” Prince did not make the original photo, but through his secondary framing of the original, he pointed to its existence—by taking the subject of the cowboy out of its original context, Prince transformed the original ad into a commentary on the American psyche and consumerism.
    A similar body of appropriation by Prince, New Portraits (2014), evokes the familiar kind of distain that Prince was met with when he created Untitled (Cowboy) in the late eighties. I contend, however, that New Portraits (2014) achieves the same “embodied meaning” that was present in Untitled (Cowboy). Prince, through the appropriation of Instagram posts, forces us to open a dialogue as to what exactly constitutes the physical essence of a work of art? Art critic Jerry Saltz says on the matter, “by now, we have to agree that images—even digital ones—are materials, and artists use materials to do what they do” (Pervert, Troll, Genius, 2014). To this logic, I ask whether or not the appropriated art at the Gagosian Gallery is attributed to the square Instagram photo, or to the entire screenshot as a whole? I submit that should the entire screenshot be considered the complete work, then Prince’s comment beneath each photo altered what a screenshot on any other device would have looked like prior to Prince’s comment. To this extent, Prince, through his comment, created a unique “portrait” that happened to include an appropriated photograph; the use of his comment in this case functioned as a layer to a digital collage.

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  6. Like many others I am drawn to Prince’s work. Particularly his Instagram paintings as they are appropriated from a source I use and interact with daily. I am drawn to his work for two reasons. The first being that Prince seems to be the ultimate “internet troll.” He goes through photos and comments on them before screen capping and blowing them up into full sized portraits. The outrage that people express at Prince’s portraits stems from the belief that things that are posted on the internet are private… which is entirely false. Prince capitalizes on this through these portraits. Better yet, he forces his audience to confront the idea that if they are uncomfortable with the idea of their Instagram pictures appearing in a gallery for strangers to peruse then perhaps they should not be posting them on a public internet platform.
    The second reason I am drawn to Prince is due to the idea of ownership. Other photographers find Prince problematic because he is an appropriator. However, when Trump won the election Prince took to Twitter to declare that a piece (from New Portraits, 2014 of Ivanka Trump) previously attributed to him was in fact a fake. Thereby, making the piece worthless. As an act of protest this is certainly an inspiring move for other contemporary artists. As an artist who essentially plagiarizes every piece he has ever produced… this is almost contradictory to Prince’s process. Arguably, Prince has never owned an image that he has put his name on so is he truly able to declare something a “fake” or not his? Appropriation in art is a challenge to understand particularly because we think of plagiarism as inherently bad but Prince’s work has pushed boundaries and inspired viewers just as art is supposed to. His disowning of the piece is almost unbelievable. He in one act, pushes viewers of his work to consider the value that he ascribes to each image chosen. By declaring the image of Ivanka Trump a fake, Prince essentially works to call the Trump family fake.
    I am not entirely sure of where Prince’s work leaves me but I find that his appropriation of images from Instagram to be provoking especially considering how large of a role social media plays in perpetuating ideas, images, and politics. His act of disowning an image is the first I’ve ever encountered and surely pushes the viewer to consider what it means for an artist, particularly an artist that appropriates their work, to disown something.

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  7. Like those before me, I was perplexed and intrigued by Richard Prince’s work, but I also would like to touch on Warhol’s thought process and contribution to culture. Like Prince, Warhol is recognized as one of the great appropriation artists. For many people, this sort of appropriation is bizarre and, as we have learned, caused great outrage in the art community. Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Cans first probed at some of the same ideas that Duchamp’s Fountain did. At first glance, these pieces may not seem as serious on the surface but the underlying meanings are powerful and poignant. The soup cans and the Brillo Box belong to “high culture” and not the mundaneness of the everyday American (Danto 44). By appropriating these images, Warhol took possession of an image (representative of materialism, capitalism, consumerism and a bunch of other cultural topics) and presented it to the sophisticated world of fine art. He is selling, exploiting, and feeding a culture to people who believe they are above the very culture of which the art is based from. It is a genius idea.
    In the YouTube video we watched on Prince, the SVP of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s makes a remark about artists in general, “no artist works out of a void in that all artists refer back in some way to the artist that came before them”. It is no doubt that Warhol influenced Prince, however; times change fast. Capitalism was rapidly taking over the world (as globalization progressed) and almost everything quickly became monetized and commoditized. In Untitled (Cowboy), Prince handpicked parts of Marlboro ads that he enjoyed (and that fit into a 35mm camera frame) and took a picture. It was as simple as that. The reaction, though, was not as simple. Outrage again in the art world. Now, looking back, he is one of the pioneers of his genre—of appropriation art in general. He is showing that in this world, craft is often meaningless. The author, as we read, is dead. The anger and hurt expressed by the photographers is real but they admit that they signed those images away.
    In the Vulture articles, Jerry Saltz comments on Prince’s newer works New Portraits. The Instagram snap shots embody the culture of now—the selfie, the appropriation, the commenting, and the depersonalization. Even more important perhaps is the disowner-ship. Prince takes a snap shot from someone’s page—sometimes he knows them, sometimes he does not. It is that easy. Even easier, as Saltz points out, is giving the piece back. This is “new” art at its finest. Prince, bothered Mr. Trump, decided to give his money back and declare a piece he made and sold to Ivanka a “fake”. This return of money and exclamation of fraud is essential to understanding appropriation art and the ease at which it can be transferred yet it holds such complex commentary that it is constantly written about and referenced.

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  8. The work of Sherrie Levine struck an interesting chord with me. Upon first viewing and reading about her work, I was quickly tempted to agree with the critics who claim she lacks conviction and creativity. In the article “Sherrie Levine” Francis M Naumann writes about how Levine recreated Duchamp’s “Fountain,” “…an edition of six highly polished bronze urinals, each of which were positioned—as was the original when recorded by Stieglitz’s camera in 1917.” Levine’s work and Duchamp’s were positioned in the same way, created by the same manufacturer and Levine quite literally titled her eight recreations, “Fountain (After Duchamp: 1)” and then 2, 3, 4 etc. Levine’s recreation seemed to go beyond appropriation and infringed on copying, yet Naumann writes how Levine’s recreation, “…did more to renew an interest in his work than—arguably—any other artist of her generation.” In understanding that her recreation paid tribute and reminded spectators how great of an artist Duchamp was, the process stemmed away from most types of appropriation that will copy the artist, but don’t necessarily value them. Naumann writes, “…Levine’s appropriations can be read in the form of an homage.” I think the skepticism surrounding the appropriation of traditional artwork stems from the fear that all the appreciation and “homage” for that original artist and artwork will be lost. Yet, this is what makes Levine’s process so fascinating because her appropriation so closely resembles the original work that it both reminds and pulls people back to its origins, while pushing people forward to rethink those origins.

    There were some minute differences in her work that added other elements to her process. For example, in the picture of her recreated” Fountain” the urinals are bronze and very shiny. To me, there seemed to be some mockery in the way she over polished the urinals. Naumann writes how these changes result, “…in a more pronounced feminist reading of the work.” These little differences are actually quite thought provoking and lead to some bigger questions as to the functionality and purpose of urinals and the broader implications of gender and society (to name a few).

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  9. The work by Prince sparked my interest because it was unlike anything I had seen previously. Unlike art created by Andy Warhol in which the replication and appropriation is more noticeable, the changes Prince made were quick to overlook. It took me an extra second to realize his addition to the already existing instagram posts. Typically, this form of appropriation in art is distinct, and clearly separates it from the original work. The origin of Warhol’s “Mona Lisa” is obvious, but the work done by Warhol would not be mistaken for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”. Prince’s additional comments to the screenshots of instagram photos could have existed without him calling them art. The ability to take an image from the digital world and allow it to live in the physical world is a phenomenon that has not existed prior to a decade ago. I have a harder time accepting this as an art form, in comparison to other forms of appropriation and replication. That might be because the act of commenting on a photograph is something that people, including myself, do all the time. Therefore, it feels as if he’s doing nothing unique, and then simply pressing print. Warhol, however, had to think about the medium in which he chose to replicate existing artwork, he had to choose a color, or new layout design to display much of his work. I’m all for creating art off of already existing art, because that is a beautiful part of the creative process, but the art the Prince created seems all too easy.

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  10. Andy Warhol’s works, which bring mass consumer culture to a fine arts audience, continues and adds to the works of other appropriation artists; creating a new context for objects and images otherwise deemed ordinary or mundane. Prints of Campbell’s soup cans and models of Brillo boxes portray a reality experienced by many, including Warhol himself. This proved disruptive for some viewers and critics, as Buchloch provides a quote from a critic in the 1960s stating, “I go to the gallery to get away from the supermarket, not to repeat the experience” (Buchloch 23). This statement reveals the art world as a separate entity from mainstream culture and society. In Danto’s “Wakeful Dreams,” he writes that Warhol’s nearly exact visual representations of consumer products is a purposeful effort to “subtract the perceptual differences between art and reality.” (Danto 36). In this act, he both grounds art viewers to understand the cultural influences of mass-produced products while elevating such items to a space in which they can be analyzed beyond their primary functions.
    The specific reality Warhol asks viewers to face is the rise of mass machine produced goods as a symbol of America during this time period. His own process reflects that of the products he emulates, using screen printing and machines to create a myriad of uniform looking pieces. In his interview with G.R. Swenson he states, “I want everybody to think alike…I think everybody should be a machine.” (Swenson 16). This desire and practice of uniformity rejects the notion of individuality and unique creativity that many other artists wish to express. In addition, understanding this piece as a commentary on American culture rejects the individuality that many believe is inherent to the country’s values. When viewed in a grocery store or advertisement such products are positioned next to other brands and one’s ability to choose between them is emphasized. However, by isolating a single brand in the gallery space the viewer has no choice but to look at that specific brand and see the uniformity of their products. The viewers themselves may even feel deindividualized being able to share a vivid understanding or experience of such products with so many other people in the country. Hence, Warhol’s use of elements of reality as art challenges definitions of art as well as larger cultural beliefs present in that reality; highlighting the value of appropriation art as meaningful cultural critique.

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  11. Immediately upon reading last week’s assignment, I thought of Richard Prince, without even knowing what was to follow in this course. After a brief analysis of his work in a photography class last semester, I was intrigued by Prince’s perplexing work. After last week’s discussion, I feel like I have even more thoughts about his work – not more clarity, but thoughts and questions about what appropriative art really is. Prince’s Instagram Paintings stuck out to me in particular. On the surface, drawing from social media (as opposed to print media/ magazines as he previously did), Prince is making his work more culturally relevant. An Instagram feed is, at its most basic, a curated collection of photos. Prince in many ways created a “feed” in real life. First and foremost, though, this brings up the question of ownership on social media – do you own what you post? Moreover, it prompts questions about authorship. In many ways this exhibit perfectly embodies the idea of “the death of the author” because, even though the audience can explicitly see the author, it doesn’t matter because Prince has claimed it as his own. This exhibit also sets up an interesting relationship between author and viewer for Prince is both!
    At the very beginning of Swenson’s “What is Pop Art? Answers from 8 Painters, Part I” Andy Warhol says “Someone said that Brecht wanted everybody to think alike. I want everybody to think alike” (16). At first I did not know what to make of this, but after reflecting upon it, I was reminded of a thought I had last week: in many ways appropriative art, like Duchamp’s fountain, is a way to shed light on the “art” in everyday objects. One element, perhaps, of the fountain was to show that a urinal can be considered art because of its quotidian use. Warhol is doing just that in his paintings of Campbell’s Soup. So, perhaps, Warhol could be saying that he wants everyone to think alike in recognizing the art in everyday objects.
    One thing that really stood out was Warhol’s mention of Merce Cunningham and John Cage(20). Merce Cunningham is known to be one of the most groundbreaking modern dance choreographers. Cunningham, like Warhol and Duchamp in their field, turned the dance world on its head. Warhol’s choice to mention Cunningham and Cage is actually quite interesting to me because since the start of this course I have been grappling with the idea of whether or not appropriation can exist in performance mediums. Further, Like Warhol and Duchamp, Cunningham has also drawn on the ordinary to create art. In one of his most famous pieces “Beach Birds”, Cunningham created choreography based on the movement of birds. Most people, might not recognize the beauty of a bird’s flights, just as most people wouldn’t think a Urinal is beautiful. However, Cunningham took the ordinary and made it something extraordinary. I believe this theme of highlighting the beauty in the ordinary will continue to come up.

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  12. Like the majority of comments so far, I’d like to focus on Prince. I was especially struck by the denouncing of his art as fake art in an effort to dissociate himself from the Kushner/Trump family. This denouncement, as Miller addresses in her comment, calls into account Prince’s ownership of his pieces in the first place. It is one thing for Prince to declare that an enlarged, black and white Instagram photo is no longer a piece of his art – yet an entirely different thing if someone who practiced more “traditional” art was to do the same thing. Imagine, if Vincent van Gogh was still alive, if he suddenly announced that “Starry Night” was no longer to be considered one of his paintings. It would simply not have the same effect or believability. This raises the questions, however, of why Prince can get away with denouncing his art while other artists cannot. The simple answer seems to be the fact that because Prince did not actually “own” this picture of Ivanka Trump he can quite easily detach his name from it.
    However, Prince’s Twitter post may not have had his desired outcome. He sought to disassociate his name from the picture, but so firm of a declaration may have served to only further cement his name onto this piece of art. By declaring the art “Fake,” Prince may have increased his claim to ownership over it. After all, in order to have the power to denounce something, Prince must have held initial power over the painting – which negates my above argument that he never “owned” the picture. Saltz writes that an artist is “primarily a conceptual creator or destroyer of worlds” and that Prince is utilizing this god-like ability “not to make but to take away.” Either way – in creation or destruction – an artist is exercising ownership over a piece of art. In declaring Ivanka Trump’s Instagram picture no longer his, in claiming to destroy all artistic value he had solely been responsible in drawing to it in the first place, Prince seems to have further implicated himself into the relationship between artist and art.

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  13. I, too, am very intrigued by Richard Prince’s Instagram portraits—particularly by his denunciation of his own piece after discovering it had been purchased by Trump’s daughter and son-in-law. On this denunciation, Jerry Saltz writes, “whatever else these artists and Prince did they reduced art to some invisible essence, the will of the artist, making the artist primarily a conceptual creator and destroyer of worlds. A declaration of independence of the mind that rearranges molecules so that something goes from art to not-art or non-art.”
    While I find myself rooting for any artist who might decide to “disown” his or her own work upon discovery that it has fallen into the hands of the Trump family, I’m not sure that I agree that an artist has the omnipotent power to declare that their work is no longer art simply because they do not like who has decided to purchase it. Of course, an artist has the freedom to declare whatever they want and I can see how such a statement might decrease the monetary value of a work of art, but I don’t agree that the statement causes the work to then become “fake,” as Prince put it. Back when Richard Prince began this Instagram series, I imagine there was a considerable amount of scrutiny that went into his selection process, for Prince only chose so many pictures and there is no shortage of content on Instagram. Whatever the catalyst may have been, something caused Prince to include Ivanka Trump’s post into his series of Instagram blowups, and at that very moment, the post became a member of Prince’s exclusive club and therefore, art. Prince’s disdain towards the Trump family—and his obvious disappointment in the fact that one of his appropriated Instagram photos ended up in a Trump’s living room—doesn’t change his original intent nor should it change the result of that intent.

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  14. Like many others, I found Richard Prince’s work to be most fascinating. I was intrigued by the YouTube video about Prince’s piece, Untitled (Cowboy) in which he “claimed” various photographs from the Marlborough campaign and manipulated them into his own. Throughout the video, original creators like Sam Abell felt that their work was stolen and used for a less creative outcome. On the other hand, Prince believes his work was his, not of those who bred the work. I was interested in understanding Abell and Wallis’ perspectives on the recreation of their own pieces of art and how the art world is evolving. Wallis explains how there has been a “shift from the artist as somebody who makes something to somebody who recognizes and points it out”, thus expanding the art world towards a place where we must understand what makes art (12:42).
    Prince’s earlier recreations using the Marlborough campaigns, something essential to America’s identity, have evolved into using Instagram as a contemporary platform to display the new American identity as an artform. Is it art if Prince is directly taking ownership of public Instagram photos and secretly adding copyright information and a kind of contract within the comments where the photo “no longer belong[s] to the original maker (Saltz 2)? This process of making art highlights our “digital reality uploaded into physical space and placed in art galleries” in order to make the digital world more accessible and tangible for audiences (Saltz 3). I find Prince’s process of choosing which images to display as a way to curate the message he is trying to send, however, I struggle with the notion that he owns the actual Instagrams after they are printed and hung up. Like Warhol, Prince has made a point to define the culture of America and how certain societal developments have shaped the way we live our lives. Whether that means advertisements that are engrained in our heads or the rise of social media in our lives, these art forms feature the progression of American culture and make us think about the impact it has on our society.

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  15. Admittedly, I have been known to be notoriously baffled by contemporary art, but Andy Warhol has always made a certain degree of sense to me. By colorizing or multiplying a popular image, he was able to change its “embodied meaning,” which by most definitions constitutes his pieces as new pieces of art (Danto 37). He elevates the Campbell’s soup can to the status of high art, he removes the horror from the scene of a car accident.

    With Warhol my main questions surround something which was touched on but not discussed much in the readings. During his interview with Swenson, he says, “I think somebody should be able to do all my paintings for me” (Swenson 17). Buchloch quotes how “specializations…have brought about an unfortunate divergence in work and philosophy of the individual producer and the artist” (qtd. in Bechloch 6). He also discusses the Brillo boxes, the “120 wooden simulacra made by Andy Warhol (or his assistants)” (Buchloch 7, my emphasis). Whereas for Richard Prince, the fact that he is the one who took the appropriated cowboy photos seems to be significant – in the video he emphasizes that he himself was the one behind the camera, as if that act of authorship somehow legitimizes the act of appropriation. Whereas with Warhol, he apparently felt no such need to author his own works.

    In summary, I suppose my question is, in a world where it is seemingly significant that Duchamp chose his fountain and Prince photographed his cowboys, how does Warhol, an artist whose assistants produced all ‘his’ paintings and sculptures, compute? If he did not physically create his pieces, can they rightly be called his?

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  16. I, like many of my classmates, found Richard Prince’s work to be the most striking of the artists we’ve surveyed for Wednesday’s class. However, due to the large amount of my peers who have already spoken quite thoughtfully and at length about Prince, I will instead turn my analysis to Sherrie Levine.

    As an artist, Levine dabbles in appropriation, a field which garners both praise and deep criticism. The lines between tribute, inspiration, appropriation, and plagiarism are so thin and often intertwined; Levine herself received some flak for her piece that closely resembles that of Duchamp, literally titled “Fountain (After Duchamp: 1).” There’s no mistaking the effort she put into recreating the piece in her own image. I find it fascinating how critics latched onto the few changes Levine did make, namely the bronze paint. Naumann records how a certain critic stated that “‘the ultra-reflectivity of the surface enhances the curvaceous ‘hips’ of the shape’” (30). As it was with Duchamp’s “Fountain,” so it is with Levine’s “Fountain (After Duchamp:1).” Both works are discussed in terms of gender, but to unique ends. In terms of cultural significance, I find it noteworthy that some bronze paint serves to feminize this piece, and grant Levine a certain sort of authorial flair.

    It is quite non-Barthesian of me, but I find myself compelled by Levine’s statements about her work. Above all else, I feel that quotes directly from her completely shape my opinion of her pieces, and in fact, my opinion on appropriation as a practice within art, and an art in and of itself. “‘I see my work as a head-on confrontation with the anxiety of influence,’” Levine states (Naumann 30). This fear of copying and of unoriginality looms over the artist, and it’s liberating for Levine to create pieces that make a very clear statement: it is okay to find inspiration in one’s world. In the words of my 12th grade art teacher, “art is not made, nor can it be viewed, within a vacuum.” I believe Levine may align with this sentiment, in that while her work is heavily influenced by what she sees and the work of others to the point that it seems a cheap imitation, she still conveys a sense of uniqueness in her work. Be it a change in medium, or some bronze paint, Levine is skilled in leaving her mark when the time is right.

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  17. What does it mean to remix, or to repurpose a piece of art? This is the central question behind Richard Prince’s work. Prince’s style of portrait, taking screen-caps of women’s Instagram photos, usually in compromising positions, with his comments on it, asks this question and several others. Does this rather small change transform the old picture into a new piece with a new meaning? Since many of his comments neither have anything to do with the original shot, nor do they provide enough context to provide a new meaning for the piece, it is difficult to definitely say that Richard Prince is an artist.

    Unlike Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Prince does not do enough to put the original piece of art into a new light. Duchamp took a used urinal and, literally turned it on its head, and started a conversation on what is the meaning of art. The conversation that Prince starts mostly revolves around his perceived perversion and predatory behavior. One article by Jerry Saltz in Vulture mentions that his Instagram was taken down due to obscenity, possibly because of this behavior. Prince does not do enough to modify the original poster’s content, it is almost pirating someone else’s intellectual property without their consent.

    On the other hand, Prince’s work with the Marlboro Man does not face the same problems as his work with the social media platform. By focusing on individual aspects of the Marlboro ad campaign, the first major ad campaign to utilize “lifestyle branding,” it takes it out of the control of the cigarette company, and makes it just about the cowboy depicted in the famed pictures. This shift in focus is repurposes the art, because it moves it away from the negative public perception of cigarettes. This shift is missing in Prince’s work on Instagram and thus why it fails to be art.

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  18. Unlike the previous posters, I feel more inclined to comment on Andy Warhol. I know he is proclaimed as one of the progenitors of the Pop Art movement and I’m fascinated with the idea that “everybody should be like a machine”. Personally I’m a consumer of Pop Art and I think it has revolutionized the way we think about consumerism and individuality. It started with the collaboration between the MOMA and Uniqlo for me. There you can find reprints of artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, which I think is ultimately the state that Warhol wanted us to reach. In What is Pop Art he mentioned that “it would be great if more people took up silk screens so that no one would know whether my picture was mine or somebody else’s.”(17)

    Even though we’re no longer using silk screens for reproduction, I think the idea of creating new art through reproduction has changed the consumer relationship to art. One of the most popular brands for street-hype millennials is a brand called “Supreme” — which has also featured some of Warhol’s and other pop artist’s famous work. The brand is a collaboration of famous art gallery paintings, 90’s skateboard photographs, rappers and has varied appropriations from doing famous photographs to complete re-designs of them. The relation to the photo now becomes more personal for the consumer because they can “own a piece of art”. Analogous to what Danto postulates, “meaning is what makes a work of art appl[y] as much to David’s as to Warhol’s.”(39-40) So, when a consumer can have a print of a famous piece of work like the “Marilyn Monroe” prints by Warhol over their shirt, it grants a new meaning thus causing a new interpretation of commercial artist.

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  19. Warhol’s appropriation of images brings to mind desensitization and democratization. The former comes from his paintings of his disaster series, showing newspaper articles about tragedies such as plane crashes and car accidents. The art is mundane and tragic, but it appears in everyday life so much that, in its mundane form, it loses meaning. As Warhol says, “When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect” (Swenson 19). The tragedies that ceased being anything more than academically tragic were given new meaning in two parts. First, when Warhol gathered the images under a certain theme, he drew attention to the subject’s inherently meaninglessness through oversaturation. Next, he reinvigorated the photos with meaning by taking an artists’ lens to them, poking around until he found a new perspective. This reinvigoration extends to other subjects, such as the Mona Lisa, one of Warhol’s favorite subjects, notable also for the greater democratization of the pieces. According to the artist “That’s probably one reason I’m using silk screens now. I think somebody should be able to do all my paintings for me” (Swenson 17). He did not due all of his silk sheet paintings, or even a large portion of them. Rather, he used others to make a statement about high art’s fascination with the artist. Warhol himself mastered marketing as a commercial artist in the fifties and as a fine artist in the sixties. Per the Buchloh text, “the commercial world is bluffed with fine art legitimation, the high art world with brutish innocence” (Buchloh 3). At the same time, Warhol uses his newfound status to deconstruct the idea of the artist as a part of the art, in a move that recall’s Barthes from last week. As Warhol says, “Everyone is too good now, really” (Swenson 17). The idea of the high artist, to him, lacks any meaning in a world of talented artists who do not get recognition for their equally impressive achievements, and so he decides to lessen the validity of his achievements.

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  20. In the Time video about Richard Prince, he discusses the Untitled (Cowboy) series, which are rephotographs of photos that were taken for a Marlboro campaign by Sam Abell. Prince alleges that he was just “claiming” or perhaps “reclaiming” the art, rather than “stealing” it. Likening art to territory, Prince also insists that he thought that Abell’s published cowboy ads were public domain. I am not entirely sure I believe that; it may just be one of his personas.
    What I find most fascinating about Prince is that it feels like the real art is in his persona, or personas, as opposed to the art itself. In all transparency, I am not sure of the artistic value of Prince’s rephotographs themselves— especially when his work is looked at in Barthesian terms. Prince’s works merit attention and value because they are Prince’s more than they do because of any other remarkable quality. Not that there isn’t anything to be said for the material Prince photographs; if a singular theme is to be found across his art, it is the nature of American consumerism. Prince says, “Making art is a continuation.” If it that is the case, then his art asks us to further consider why he thought it was important to rephotograph, reclaim, or once again bring up the subject of his photos. Perhaps he is asking us to reconsider the significance of cowboys as an American ideal, and in relation to cigarettes. Furthermore, with his Instagram series, we must consider the photo that falls victim to Prince’s “trolling” in relation to the comment he leaves. Together, what statement do they make? Oftentimes he assumes the role of someone who has presumably had a sexual encounter with the subjects of the Instagram posts, writing things like “Again maybe sometimes” and “Enjoyed the ride today.” Other times he just leaves a few emojis. Othertimes he comments as a self-aware proponent of meme culture, commenting on his intentions of reappropriation on Instagram posts of Manet, DaVinci, and Boticelli. After posting about Duchamp’s L. H. O. O. Q. last week, I am inclined to comment that more seems to be said by Duchamp’s alteration of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa than is said by Prince’s addition of the comment, “mona = mine now.”

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