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ECHO: Sampling Visual Culture June 25–October 10, 2010
Artist Marcel Duchamp believed that "the viewer was a co-partner in the creative process" and utilized irony and humor in his work to give the viewer an access point. ECHO: Sampling Visual Culture will explore a selection of contemporary artists from the Gallery's Collection who incorporate humor and appropriation into their artmaking. "Appropriation" refers to the artistic tradition of "adopting, borrowing, recycling, or sampling aspects of visual culture" such as ideas, advertising symbols, media, forms, or styles taken from other cultures, time-periods, or artists.
This exhibition challenges viewers by presenting accessible, often humorous, work that also provides a relevant commentary on how we collectively process the imagery that surrounds us on a daily basis.
In addition to works by artists such as Louis Cameron, Sherrie Levine, Tom Sachs, Robert Therrien, Vik Muniz, and Kara Walker, the exhibition will include more historical works by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, who were among one of the first generations of artists to draw upon mass culture and popular media such as advertising, comic books, and newspapers.
Support for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's annual operations is generously provided, in part, by The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc.; The John R. Oishei Foundation; and The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation. The Gallery is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and by a grant-in-aid from the County of Erie.
In music a common practice today is called sampling – when a recording artist or songwriter
uses part of another artist’s song as part of his or her own composition or recording.
Can you think of a song you know that uses sampling?
Visual artists borrow, copy, and repeat in their compositions too. They look back to artists they admire.
They look back into the history of art. They look to advertising and borrow its ideas –
and sometimes it’s a two way street with advertisers looking to artists and using their ideas too.
When you come to this exhibition at the Gallery, you’ll see examples of visual artists borrowing and
repeating – sampling – from many different sources. In this preview, you’ll see four examples:
An Artist Who Some Say Started it AllAn Artist Who Borrowed from Advertising
An Artist Who Borrowed from Another Artist An Artist Who Borrowed From News Media
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)was an artist who outraged the public by borrowing a
urinal from a mens’ room, turning it upside down, making up a title, signing it with a
made-up name, and exhibiting it as his sculpture in 1917. He said that the things he
borrowed from the world and exhibited as his artwork were “readymades” – already existing
things the artist made into art by the act of choosing and displaying them as art.
Can you find the made-up name on his sculpture?
What was the title he gave it ? Why do you think he gave it
Do you think Marcel Duchamp was right? Can an artist
just decide to call something art?
Note: This artwork is very famous but is not in this exhibition. Where can you find out more about this artwork and where you might see it in person?
Here is Marcel Duchamp’s sculpture in our exhibition. Can you identify any of
the things in the photograph?
In the mirror under the cage you can read the title he gave this sculpture and the date it
was made. The name Rose Sélavy is another one of the fictitious names Duchamp used
Marcel Duchamp Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy?(reconstruction of 1921 original), 1964Marble cubes, thermometer, metal cage, perches, and cuttlebones
Marcel Duchamp was an artist who loved to make people think and also enjoyed making jokes.
If you thought the cubes were made of sugar, you might be surprised how heavy the cage is if you tried to pick
it up. The cubes are actually cut from marble (a kind of stone).
You can probably easily find the perches, but you’ll have to come to the Gallery to find the thermometer or
the cuttlebones, which are hard to see in this photo.
Can you make up a story to explain why Duchamp put these “readymades” together in this
sculpture? Can you include the title in your story?
Some artists borrow from advertising as inspiration for their art. Can you tell which product Louis Cameron used as a starting point for this artwork?he was looking at from the title of this artwork?
He looked at a package for General Electric Standard lightbulbs and asked himself: What percentage was blue? Yellow? White?
Then he got a jigsaw puzzle, painted its pieces blue,
yellow and white to correspond to those percentages, and put the puzzle together to see what it would look like.
He has three more works in the exhibition that are based on the colors used in advertising packaging. Come see them!
Louis CameronG.E Standard Lightbulbs, 2004-2005Spray enamel on puzzle on wood panel
26 1/2 x 19 1/2" (67.31 x 49.53 cm.)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an artist who used many techniques of art making: film, printmaking,
painting, photography, and more. He has inspired many artists since his death in 1987 and is one
of the most famous artists of the twentieth century. One of the methods he used was to borrow
images from print media –newspapers and magazines.
Warhol often used violent or shocking subject matter such as automobile accidents, plane crashes , atomic
Bomb explosions, and electric chairs to comment on how the public and the media treat tragic events
as public spectacles.
In 1963 Andy Warhol was one of the first
to take photographs from media sources
and present them as his own artwork,
often printed in different colors.
He frequently used a technique called
screen printing to do this. After a stencil is
cut on a fine screen, ink is forced through it
onto paper or canvas.
The original photograph was taken by
Charles Moore and published in Life
Magazine in 1963. It depicts police
clashing with supporters of Martin Luther
King, Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama who were
protesting segregated lunch counters in
restaurants. The police attacked with dogs
and water hoses. King himself was arrested.
These photographs, published across the
nation with news about the riots, triggered
rioting in other cities. Eventually, the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, outlawing
unequal voter registration requirements and
racial segregation in schools, workplaces
and public facilities.
Pictured is Andy Warhol’s screen print of the
Come to the Gallery to contemporary artist Kelley Walker’s painting Black Star Press (rotated 90 degrees
counterclockwise), 2006. He borrowed images just like Andy Warhol’s to make his painting – with chocolate!
Anonymous (formerly attributed to Alvan Fisher)
View of Niagara Falls, ca. 1807-1850
Oil on canvas
25 x 34" (63.5 x 86.36 cm.)
Matts Leiderstam (Swedish, born 1956) is interested in the history of landscape painting. He finds
historic paintings, copies them, and reconnects them to the places that inspired them.
One day during a project he was doing in Buffalo he came to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
and saw this painting. Looking very carefully, he obtained permission from the Albright-Knox to
paint a copy of it in the museum…
…and then went to Niagara Falls and tried to find the exact spot where it was painted.
He photographed his copy of the painting in the landscape, on an easel as if the painter just finished it.Matts LeiderstamThe Artist is at Niagara Falls, 2001Unique chromogenic color print24 x 30" (60.96 x 76.2 cm.)
Come see all of these works of art and more at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery!