Double Take

Art Free
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Appropriation? That’s simply artspeak for stealing: taking something that exists already and turning it into something new. It’s been going strong for several decades now, and this group exhibition works as a who’s-who of artists involved in this sticky-fingered chicanery.

There’s lots of work by Richard Prince here, because not including Richard Prince in a show about appropriation would be like not including van Gogh in a show about suicidal Dutch post-impressionist painters from the late nineteenth century whose first names were Vincent. It’s always great seeing Prince’s seminal ‘Marlboro Man’ works, where he pinched images of horse-riding cowboys from cigarette packets and turned them into hypermasculine paeans to the American frontier.

 This tactic – plucking aspirational images from the glossy world of advertising and refashioning them into highbrow art – explains why there are so many glamorous ladies on display: sipping cola through pouting lips, running in swimwear. Much of this has been done by men and, if it feels a tad gratuitous at times, there’s also several female artists featured who have their own points to make, like Louise Lawler. Her photograph of a female nude by the painter Gerhard Richter, lying unceremoniously on its side in a deserted gallery, is clearly meant as a sacrilegious eff-you to the world’s most expensive living artist.

Time hasn’t been particularly kind to some of the older work: a veil of nostalgia undermines work that uses ’70s commercial photography and suchlike. The most urgent stuff comes from younger artists, like Roe Ethridge and his montage of  YouTube stills and internet memes. We’re constantly being told we live in an age where truth is stranger than fiction. By extension: why try and create anything new when pictures of Ewoks from ‘Star Wars’ captioned with the words ‘PREPARE YOUR ANUS’ are there for the taking?


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