Plagiarism and Appropriation in Art

The Paradox of Originality

Guest lecturer Kyle Novak traced appropriation by artists from cubist collages and Picasso’s works that borrowed from African art. Kyle cited works of Richard Hamilton acclaimed for the earliest “pop art”; Roy Lichtenstein who appropriated images from comic books and ads, often cropping and enlarging to create stunning compositions. Andy Warhol is noted for his creative use of photo silkscreens.
Post-modernist Sherrie Levine tried to give new perspective to existing works; Cindy Sherman placed herself in a series of appropriated photos. Richard Prince blatantly copied photos from Instagram posts and works of others. Richard Prince has been involved in numerous copyright lawsuits for his obvious plagiarism.

So what’s an artist to do about this paradox of originality?..


“Continue to create things that celebrate what’s been done before or focus on ideas that are brand new? I think the answer is both. The way you become original is through imitation to some degree. When starting out as a creator your work is going to largely reflect the ideas of your influences. That’s how you find your voice. The more you make things, the more your voice will become a collection of those influences and start to feel UNIQUE.”

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