Undergraduate Seminar (Modern/Contemporary): Art as Appropriation
In an effort to articulate his own procedure for creative quotation, artist Glenn Ligon once recited Jasper Johns’ famous sketchbook note: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.” These influential instructions begin to describe the defining operations of ‘appropriation’—an artistic practice in which found objects or images are withdrawn from their known contexts and revalued in the course of their manipulation and displacement into others. Rather than provide a comprehensive overview of appropriation as an art-historical category, this seminar will narrow its interpretative aperture on the specific practices of three contemporary multi-media artists—Glenn Ligon, William Pope.L and Ellen Gallagher. This trio of artists represents three key strategies of appropriation: pastiche, détournement, and recombination. Homing in on the critical bodies of literature that have amassed around their respective bodies of work, this seminar will explore the myriad ways in which these artists reinvent found texts, commodities and ephemera and endow them with new significances that redefine traditional categories of class, gender, and race.