ReVisions: The Appropriated Image

  • Dec 9, 2007 – May 4, 2008

For many, the idea of making art means making something original—something never heard, read or seen before. A common belief is that artists must use their own ideas, not those of others. Throughout history however, artists have shown that it is possible to create new work from borrowed images. The result: a unique idea that simultaneously combines both past and the present interpretations.

In 1917, the artist Marcel Duchamp took a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa and drew a mustache on it. One could dismiss this as an act of vandalism or silliness. Yet another way to interpret Duchamp’s mustachioed Mona is that it was a direct and powerful way of challenging the authority of High Art. Duchamp was suggesting that we take art too seriously and, even further, that nothing is really sacred and immune from parody or criticism.

After Duchamp, artists using ordinary found objects or adapting pre-existing imagery became increasingly common. In the 1950s Robert Rauschenberg made what he dubbed "combines,” literally combining readymade objects such as tires or beds, painting, silk-screens, collage, and photography. Jasper Johns, working at the same time as Rauschenberg, incorporated the American flag into his work. In the 1960s, Andy Warhol made paintings of cans of soup, thus taking or “appropriating” images from the commercial art world.

ReVisions will focus on art that uses images from the news, commercial art, cartoons and even from old master paintings to both comment on and question how elusive the meaning of art can be.

 

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.