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Appropriation

Pop artists borrowed from popular culture, challenging notions of originality and what it means to be an artist.


Turkey Shopping Bag

Roy Lichtenstein
(American, 1923–1997)

1964. Screenprint on shopping bag with handles, composition: 7 1/2 x 9" (19.1 x 22.8 cm); sheet (irreg.): 19 5/16 x 16 15/16" (49 x 43 cm)

The turkey depicted on this shopping bag was mostly likely inspired by a newspaper advertisement. Lichtenstein designed the image, then handed it off to silkscreeners who transferred it to mass-produced shopping bags.

Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and other Pop artists created multiples for the 1964 exhibition American Supermarket, which highlighted the differences and similarities between the actual consumer objects and Pop artists’ depictions of them. The exhibition was designed to resemble a supermarket, complete with aisles, shelves, and a checkout counter. Plastic and real food items were displayed alongside artists’ depictions of them. Artworks were priced and sold cheaply, further blurring the line between art, commerce, and consumption. These bags were sold for 12 dollars each.

A stencil-based printmaking technique in which the first step is to stretch and attach a woven fabric (originally made of silk, but now more commonly of synthetic material) tightly over a wooden frame to create a screen. Areas of the screen that are not part of the image are blocked out with a variety of stencil-based methods. A squeegee is then used to press ink through the unblocked areas of the screen, directly onto paper. Screenprints typically feature bold, hard-edged areas of flat, unmodulated color. Also known as silkscreen and serigraphy.

A movement comprising initially British, then American artists in the 1950s and 1960s. Pop artists borrowed imagery from popular culture—from sources including television, comic books, and print advertising—often to challenge conventional values propagated by the mass media, from notions of femininity and domesticity to consumerism and patriotism. Their often subversive and irreverent strategies of appropriation extended to their materials and methods of production, which were drawn from the commercial world.

A term referring to small-scale, three-dimensional works of art conceived and produced in relatively large editions, and often issued by the same individuals or organizations that publish prints.