Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Agnes Berecz

Second Advisor

Morgan Falconer


Investigating the ways in which appropriation functions as a critical response to the commodification of art in a consumerist society, this thesis aims to understand what appropriation is, and highlight its intentions and cultural iconography by exploring how the strategies implemented in the rituality of its creation impact the way one understands the representation of an appropriated image through a new lens. Appropriation artists navigate blurred boundaries between critique, authorship, and codes, that decipher the way one understands a work of appropriated art. I aim to understand why we are drawn to the recognizable image and consumerist object from the everyday, through reappropriating and reproducing it within a work of art, and how the art market responds to appropriation art as a commodity. The reflections in this paper concern the underlying ‘essence’ within a work of art through the technique of appropriation in the context of the 20th century’s surge in consumerism and pervasive influx of popular culture and mass media. Challenging the rituality of art creation, appropriation has taken on new significance through the proliferation of images and cultural icons, as Core Contemporary artists such as Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Douglas Gordon, Steve McQueen, and Cindy Sherman respond to their artistic predecessors using appropriation as a tool for commentary, and critique, and redefine the bounds of artistic expression. Through a comprehensive analysis of the 20th century’s culture and contextual history, the artworks referenced in this thesis aim to reveal how appropriation has emerged as a dynamic, transformative artistic technique that challenges the notions of originality and authorship.