Appropriation—the strategy of selective borrowing—is a common theme in the history of modern art. Since the late nineteenth century artists have both copied and imitated the work of other artists. Consider, for example, the work of Vincent Van Gogh, who copied the format and the compositions of Japanese color woodcuts (ukiyo-e).
The practice, prevalent in the 1980s, of borrowing images from a range of sources both within and outside of art history and re-presenting them in new works of art. The borrowed images can be minimally altered, as in the photographs of Sherrie Levine, or combined into elaborate compositions, as in the work of David Salle. Appropriation has a venerable history. Both Edouard Manet and Pablo.