Melania Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention went viral Monday night for allegedly copying parts of a speech Michelle Obama made eight years earlier at the Democratic National Convention. Pundits will call it plagiarism. Artists might call it appropriation. In honor of the scandalous performance, we've put together five of our favorite works of appropriation art.
Gavin Turk’s Transit Disaster series is the ultimate appropriation of appropriation. Recycling Warhol’s car crash paintings from the Pop artist’s "Death and Disaster" series, which in turn were appropriated from photographs of fatal accidents in newspapers, Turk swaps Warhol's American car with a white van, a symbol of a certain British white working class, now dying its own kind of slow death as the demand for blue-collar labor begins to diminish.
From his journal-like ink-on-paper series Note to Self, Scottish Paul McDevitt pokes some fun at art history by treating a canonized painting style like the page of a notebook. McDevitt combines references to Piet Mondrian, the De Stijl movement, and graffiti, skillfully interweaving high and low art.
“There’s no comparable costume for a man that symbolizes this moment… we’ve only created this outfit for women,” once said Robert Gober of the wedding dress. In this recreation of a bridal advertisement for Saks Fith Avenue found in the New York Times, the artist has inserted himself into the gendered outfit. Positioned underneath a headline about homophobia, this work makes the political personal.
The emerging American artist Libby Schoettle's work centers around the fictional life of her alter ego, PhoebeNewYork. This collage appropriates the book cover for Nathaniel West's 1933 dark comedy set in New York during the Great Depression.
The crude, generic figures in this suite of prints were originally rendered as illustrations for runaway slave posters. Artist Hank Willis Thomas reproduced the images, which he found in a book entitled Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America 1780-1865.