Resource What is Appropriation?

What is Appropriation?
An Anthology of Critical Writings on Australian Art in the 80s and 90s


  • Author
    Rex Butler
  • ISBN
  • Publisher
    Institute of Modern Art
  • Pages
  • Price

The classic anthology, What Is Appropriation?: An Anthology of Writings on Australian Art in the 1980s & 1990s, on contemporary Australian art. It was first published in 1996 and a second edition was issued in 2014.

It was probably Ad Reinhardt, though it could have been Sherrie Levine or even Andy Warhol, who remarked that you only know you are doing something original when everybody else is doing it. This book explores this and other paradoxes raised by the practice of appropriation the quotation and use of other artists' work that became widespread in the 1980s. Why was the practice so uniquely popular in Australia? What did it say about the relationship of Australian art to the art of other countries; about white art to Aboriginal art; and about contemporary art to the art of the past? How and why does appropriation fundamentally challenge habitual ways of looking at pictures and thinking about art? The essays and pictures in this book provide answers to these questions, but always in the knowledge that the enigma of appropriation remains

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The Institute of Modern Art acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the IMA now stands, the Jagera, Yuggera, Yugarapul, and Turrbal people. We offer our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first artists of this country. In the spirit of allyship, the IMA will continue to work with First Nations people to celebrate, support, and present their immense past, present, and future contribution to artistic practice and cultural expression.