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 contrast. building Portland Public Services Building and Gehry's own house in Santa Monica. creative contribution to the uninterrupted. Graves appropriates architecture combination century). for example. Gehry's practice. retains the historical lessons of modernism even as it criticizes its idealist dimension from a postmodernist abstracted style. The present-day other than the material conditions universality.. ongoing tradition of Graves' eclecticism thus maintains the integrity of a self-enclosed style. shot through with) mass-produced. displays mix of past architectural But it is a particular to which Graves turns-the drawn generally from the orbit of classicism. 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). but nature as understood in the nineteenth Graves' approach to that of the Beaux-Arts chitect.. whole. an already eclectic classicism. from that of Gehry? For the sake of convenience. classicism buildings. of Boullee and Ledoux. material. by cononly a single element from the past. 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. against which the modernists would react. an 1920s house. there is a very strong illusion indeed of the wholeness of the end product and of the architect's architecture. the individual of Cehry's house resolutely declaring its contingency which this house maintain their identities.use of pastiche T o begin. They do not cornhine into an illusion of a "carnie. Gehry. 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. to by.. appropriates element of style. immediately from the architectural past. This house is then from-theiron. 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. It is not.. then. perspective. chain-link obvious: laterally. dements Unlike the marble that Graves uses. The house remains a collage of fragments. as would a movie set seen on a sound stage (a comparison . it is an already-existing collaged with (surrounded fence. the pseudo-classicism of Art Deco public occasional flourishes of Beaux-Arts pomp. industry--corrugated trast. Differences catalogue materials of the construction between these two practices are. Gehry appropriates Graves appropriates readings from the present. however. How. not an products of the building trade reflect nothing of the present moment in history. Cehry's house takes from history an actual object (the existing house). plywood. Gehry's house. Gehry's materials cannot pretend to a timeless :VIoreover. asphalt. Although there can be no illusion that the elements of style are originated by the architect himself.

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

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

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

RICHARD PRI. 1982 .'llCE Untitled.

T he centrality. 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. 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. definitions of art. of course. It was instead a hybrid form of printing. when he systematically embraced photographic images in the early '60s it became less and less possible to think of his work as painting. accumulation. 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 . whole of tongand aided this recuperation: in bronze. always participate in nonart practices. When I wrote that paragraph me as crucial about Rauschenberg's two and a half years ago. essential to the ordered discourse of the museum. excerptation. A. of rehabilitations of retardataire reactionary artists such as nineteenth-century pompiers and between-the-wars . Through reproductive technology postmodernist art dispenses with the aura. 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. always threaten the insularity of art's discourse. quotation. appropriations 2_ignificant change had occu_!]. a of photographic art of art-the of knowledgtQhen broken down. and presence. of photography within the current range of practices makes it crucial modernism. too useful to other discourses. Not only has photography so thoroughly saturated our visual is too multiple. transfer drawings). Notions of originality. And it is this move that requires us to think of Rauschenberg's art as postmodemist. system of knowledge. This was important not only because the extinction of the traditional production mode. 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. The fantasy of the creating subject gives way to the frank confiscation. Rauschenberg had moved definitively from techniques of production (combines. and repetition of already existing images."ed and to recuperate new set of appropriations outmoded techniques course) and casting such as painting sculpture at fresco (albeit on portable panels. are undermined. assemblages) to techniques of reproduction (silkscreens.® and non art- and activities did take place. to a theoretical distinction between modernism and postidea. authenticity. Photography In this regard. 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.

thrusting Thus. of the director mode of art photography auteur photography) which implicitly behind it. 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. with his camera. the daily newspaper to the surface of a as an art medium traditionally /\. manner-the : duplicated-but . auteurism In like fashion. a photographer. what does he see through his lens. even But when those practices extreme mediation or even didactically museum. tmages.realists. to one of his early interests-photography. it appeared (which I prefer to call setup shots of ersatz film stills. in the culture to another-from. and delivers it up photographic in this new form to satisfy the museum's desire for appropriated . 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. A particularly ~-----~--~----~-which the of the current conditions But not photography of art is provided again by the work of Rausehenberg.nd what does he find thus. was wryly mocked cowboys. Richard of unaltered pictures using the strategy of appropriation of advertising into the context of the art gallery. painting-but Rauschenberg rather photography In his latest work he has returned as a reprofrom one place conceived. his exactly by I \ a number of recent photographic functioned. but all those objects in from his own art. Rauschenberg f the world that look [ike passages converts it om material to style. Like Rauschenberg's art institutions resting place within those institutions.!£. And in this wa the strategy of a just anot er academic illuminating museum organizes its objects. 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. in short. and reevaluations of hitherto secondary photography. ductive technology through which images can be transferred say. art institutions that the so-called dollhouses in a determinedly directorial appropriation of earlier commercial photography. if very subtly. all works made within the comwill inevitably find their life and their begin. has become. ~.