APPROPRIATING APPROPRIATION

DOUGLAS CRIMP
ver the past few years it has become increasingly appropriation contemporary altogether no longer attests to a particular clear that the strategy of stance toward the conditions of

culture. To say this is both to suggest that appropriation pastiche, quotation-these

did at
methods

first seem to entail a critical position and to admit that such a reading was too simple. For appropriation. can now be seen to extend to virtually every. aspect of our culture, most cynically calculated to the most committed retrograde Robert Mapplethorpe's ingly progressive products of the fashion and entertainment critical activities of artists, from the industries films, Straub

from the most clearly

works (Michael Graves' buildings, photographs, practices

Hans Jurgen Syberberg's Jean-Marie

David Salle's paintings) to the most seemRoland Barthes' mode, then
production

(Frank Gehry's architecture,

and Daniele Huillet's cinema, Sherrie Levine's photography, the mode itself cannot articulate
On the other hand,

texts), And if all aspects of the culture use this new operational
the very ubiquity of a new mode of cultural as that between

a specific reflection upon that culture.
cultural

does underscore
recent and postmodernism, usages. simple

the fact that there has been an important

shift in

years, a shift that
even

r still

want to designate

modernism in its current beyond the

if the latter term is utterly confusing
begin to acquire meaning

Postmodernism
naming

will perhaps

of a Zeitgeist when we are able to employ

it to make distinctions might be approached.

within
27

aU the various practices

of appropriation.

IX/hat I would like to do here,

then, is to suggest some ways in which these distinctions

by cononly a single element from the past. Gehry. Gehry's materials cannot pretend to a timeless :VIoreover. returns to a premodernist of elements style. by each architect-Graves' an eclectic let's take completed styles brand of neo- the most famous building The Portland classicism.. displays mix of past architectural But it is a particular to which Graves turns-the drawn generally from the orbit of classicism. an 1920s house. creative contribution to the uninterrupted. but nature as understood in the nineteenth Graves' approach to that of the Beaux-Arts chitect.. retains the historical lessons of modernism even as it criticizes its idealist dimension from a postmodernist abstracted style. of Boullee and Ledoux. there is a very strong illusion indeed of the wholeness of the end product and of the architect's architecture. In what different result? Graves' approach given vocabulary understanding of the art as a creative (they ar- do these two modes of appropriation derived from a historically is thus equivalent are also said to derive from nature. the pseudo-classicism of Art Deco public occasional flourishes of Beaux-Arts pomp. Gehry appropriates Graves appropriates readings from the present. material. Gehry's practice. however. How. They do not cornhine into an illusion of a "carnie. Cehry's house takes from history an actual object (the existing house).. a pseudo-history developments immune to problematic incurar(one of which would be modem history of architectural chitecture sions from real historical itself if considered as more than merely another style). then. it is an already-existing collaged with (surrounded fence. an already eclectic classicism. against which the modernists would react. Graves appropriates architecture combination century). Differences catalogue materials of the construction between these two practices are. shot through with) mass-produced. plywood. not an products of the building trade reflect nothing of the present moment in history. The present-day other than the material conditions universality. whole. the individual of Cehry's house resolutely declaring its contingency which this house maintain their identities.. The house remains a collage of fragments. classicism buildings. as would a movie set seen on a sound stage (a comparison . from that of Gehry? For the sake of convenience.. chain-link obvious: laterally. It is not. by contrast. building Portland Public Services Building and Gehry's own house in Santa Monica. appropriates element of style. ongoing tradition of Graves' eclecticism thus maintains the integrity of a self-enclosed style. immediately from the architectural past. perspective.use of pastiche T o begin. Gehry's house. for example. I should perhaps regressive/progressive look more closely at the assertions of the uses of appropriation can we distinguish recently of the by the Graves' character artists named above. dements Unlike the marble that Graves uses. to by. industry--corrugated trast. This house is then from-theiron. Although there can be no illusion that the elements of style are originated by the architect himself. asphalt.

!.\A Aluminum Foil.\1Y DE SA.J!:o. 1980 .

lighting. so Mapplethorpe constructs from his historical sources a synthetic "personal" vision that is yet another creative link in photographic to Edward Weston and to the combinations. She makes use of the images. Her appropriations historical discourses naively participate. nude. as Levine of paintings). sculptural value for the particular plethorpe's by Weston photographs of classical In the case of the Weston nudes. she is not confined paintings style. W hat. and these fragments do not add up to a style. raphy? Can analogous be made between the photophotographs. no history's endless chain of possibilities. on the other? Mapplethorpe's nudes or stilllifes traditional (and it is not coincidental artistic genres). she did so by simply rephoLike the 1920s house that forms whole. while his of George Platt through the mediation of the fashion industry. Levine's approitself-the appropriation of priation reflects upon the strategy of appropriation \\/eston's style: the appropriation and Mapplethorpe. to a teapot or a line of fabrics as to a Sherrie Levine.lO rejection of photography as a tool that guarantees the atavism of the painters' . and even their subjects imondain tulips) recall Vanity Fair and Vogue at that and Man Ray art when such "artists" as Edward Steichen to those publications Mapplethorpe's their intimate knowledge of international to Edward Weston. but into which they are inserted. indeed of photography in general.vfapplethorpe by the institutions of high art of both \V'cston and finally. appropriate instrumentally uf photography. then. Gehry's house is a unique response discriminately to a particular architectural program. In such images. the . hand. historical contributed photography. also She can as a tool of appropriation. graphic borrowings of Robert Mapplethorpe. Levine lays no claim to have only functional of his young son Neil-no no synthesis. Using photography medium to the specific t or reproductions photography does. it cannot be inon the other reapplied to another situation. personalities. When Levine wished to make reference photographic tographing transformations. that discourse is the very one in which Map- In this respect. existing the core of Gehry's house. Weston's nudes were appropriated theft of already notions of artistic creativity. a style of her own. [he appropriation by . and whether portraits. abstraction juncture poses. an undisguised conventional not to constitute variant of the neoclassical Weston's pictures no additions.directly solicits). that they fall so neatly into these the stylistics of prewar studio photog- raphy. of the subject refers to the neoclassical Lynes. will seem to him as appropriate showroom or a skyscraper. by contrast. appropriate glacial nudes. It is. Graves' vocabulary. Just as Graves finds his style in a few carefully selected moments of architectural history. pretenses abstraction and fetishization of objects thus refer. becomes of these differences distinctions when applied to photogon the one hand. Their compositions.

formation academicians. in its material Dimitri except when they use the traditional form of collage. SHERRIE LEVINE After E rnst Ludwig Kirchner 1982 Original in color . such painters appropriate style. Only Levine at/of the studio of the late painter herself has been canny enough to appropriate form. since they remain dependent upon modes of imitation/trans- that are no different from those practiced by nineteenth-century Like Graves and . not material.recent pastiches.\Iapplethorpe. painting whole. by staging an exhibition _\lerinoff.

RICHARD PRI. 1982 .'llCE Untitled.

too useful to other discourses. of rehabilitations of retardataire reactionary artists such as nineteenth-century pompiers and between-the-wars . I want to return to me the moment of environment as to make the invention of visual images seem an archaic within traditional but it is clear that photography ever to be wholly contained will always exceed the institutions of art. Notions of originality. always participate in nonart practices. and repetition of already existing images. essential to the ordered discourse of the museum. to the context transition in which photography to postmodernism: first suggested While it was only with slight discomfort that Rauschenberg was called a painter throughout the first decade of his career. when he systematically embraced photographic images in the early '60s it became less and less possible to think of his work as painting. assemblages) to techniques of reproduction (silkscreens. definitions of art. and presence.T he centrality. excerptation. of course. a whole range of new possibilities And in the years following Rauschenherg's images--his a whole new set of esthetic operations or accounted precipitated for by the museum's range that could not even have been foreseen from within the former appropriation very real disintegration of the boundaries between . but also because all the claims to authenticity museum-determined the determinants according to which the major social its body of objects and its field of a field of knowledge begin to be for knowledge opens up. a of photographic art of art-the of knowledgtQhen broken down. Photography In this regard. When I wrote that paragraph me as crucial about Rauschenberg's two and a half years ago. what had struck early '60s works was their destruction of of pho- the guarded autonomy of modernist painting through the introduction it threatened it questioned institution tography onto the surface of the canvas. Through reproductive technology postmodernist art dispenses with the aura. Rauschenberg had moved definitively from techniques of production (combines. always threaten the insularity of art's discourse. This was important not only because the extinction of the traditional production mode.® and non art- and activities did take place. The fantasy of the creating subject gives way to the frank confiscation. appropriations 2_ignificant change had occu_!]. accumulation. It was instead a hybrid form of printing. quotation. Not only has photography so thoroughly saturated our visual is too multiple."ed and to recuperate new set of appropriations outmoded techniques course) and casting such as painting sculpture at fresco (albeit on portable panels. of photography within the current range of practices makes it crucial modernism. whole of tongand aided this recuperation: in bronze. authenticity. are undermined. And it is this move that requires us to think of Rauschenberg's art as postmodemist. system of knowledge. A. transfer drawings). to a theoretical distinction between modernism and postidea. by all manner of attempts to deny that _~y forms. traditional The crisis thus These activities could not be contained within the space of the museum was met.

And in this wa the strategy of a just anot er academic illuminating museum organizes its objects. of the director mode of art photography auteur photography) which implicitly behind it. by Laurie Simmons' and plastic Or by Cindy Sherman's by equating attacked the known artifice of the authenticity actress in front of the camera with the supposed pass of the present C ertainly I did not expect this work simply to function instrumentally in its response to the institutional force of the works. with his camera. it appeared (which I prefer to call setup shots of ersatz film stills. manner-the : duplicated-but . what does he see through his lens. painting-but Rauschenberg rather photography In his latest work he has returned as a reprofrom one place conceived. thrusting Thus. A particularly ~-----~--~----~-which the of the current conditions But not photography of art is provided again by the work of Rausehenberg. and delivers it up photographic in this new form to satisfy the museum's desire for appropriated . to accommodate discourse-as image or Sherman's abandonment in the case of Prince's themselves to the desires of the institutional of the advertising in favor of the movie still's mise-en-scene of close-ups of the "star"-they (rather than to intervene becomes allow themselves '- simply to enter that discourse within it) on a par with the very objects they had ropriation catego_2'-a example thematic-through nee appeared ready to dis lace. ~. and reevaluations of hitherto secondary photography. Like Rauschenberg's art institutions resting place within those institutions. was wryly mocked cowboys. to this last response practices products such as architects' to the museum's crisis-the drawings and commercial It was in relation wholesale acceptance of photography Prince's as a museum art-that appropriation degraded it seemed to me images. Rauschenberg f the world that look [ike passages converts it om material to style. has become. ductive technology through which images can be transferred say.nd what does he find thus. to one of his early interests-photography. a photographer. the daily newspaper to the surface of a as an art medium traditionally /\. if very subtly. in short. Richard of unaltered pictures using the strategy of appropriation of advertising into the context of the art gallery. all works made within the comwill inevitably find their life and their begin.realists. auteurism In like fashion. art institutions that the so-called dollhouses in a determinedly directorial appropriation of earlier commercial photography. even But when those practices extreme mediation or even didactically museum. tmages.!£. but all those objects in from his own art. in the culture to another-from. his exactly by I \ a number of recent photographic functioned.

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