Part 3 – Assignment 3: Re-appropriating Images – Research

Identify an example of re-appropriation within visual communication. As the Botero example suggests, this could be illustrators or designers drawing from wider visual culture within their work, advertisers using ideas from films, the satirical reuse of media images for political ends, or the reuse of text and image within collage. The reuse could be within visual communication, such as designers re-purposing typography, illustrations or iconic designs, or examples where visual communicators have taken ideas from wider, perhaps global, visual cultures.

First, some definitions from Merriam-Webster:


ap·​pro·​pri·​ate | \ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt\
appropriated; appropriating
transitive verb

1 : to take exclusive possession of : ANNEX
No one should appropriate a common benefit.
2 : to set apart for or assign to a particular purpose or use
//appropriate money for a research program

3 : to take or make use of without authority or right
//natural habitats that have been appropriated for human use


re·​ap·​pro·​pri·​ate | \(ˌ)rē-ə-ˈprō-prē-ˌāt\
reappropriated; reappropriating; reappropriates
transitive verb

: to appropriate (something) again: such as
a : to allocate or assign (something) in a new or different way
//reappropriate funds previously allocated for maintenance
b : to take back or reclaim (something) for one’s own purposes
//trying to reappropriate a disparaging term

My first thought upon approaching this task was that it was going to be difficult to come up with an example, and I did struggle with the first few searches I tried.

Some of the first search terms I tried were re-appropriation in visual communication, re-appropriation in art, re-appropriation of images, modern versions of famous paintings, modern versions of famous images, famous images reimagined, famous images reimagined for media, famous images reimagined for adverts, and famous images reimagined for products.

Famous images reimagined for products brought to a massive Pinterest collection called Art Reimagined. This collection led me to looking at some re-imagined versions of George Seurat’s painting ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte‘ (below):

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86 (oil on canvas)
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86 (oil on canvas) , Seurat, Georges Pierre (1859-91) / The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA / Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection / Bridgeman Images

It turns out there are many re-imagined versions of this work. I’ve listed a few links below:

DC Superheroes
Playmobil Figures (plus lots of other Playmobil artworks)
Nintendo Characters
With Tablets and Smart Phones
Star Wars
The Simpsons

One version that I really like, and could be a contender for use in this assignment is the Bob Knox piece that was used on the cover of The New Yorker in 1991, and has subsequently found itself on jigsaws, phone covers, T-shirts and all kinds of other items.

The New Yorker, July 15th 1991. Bob Knox

Something interesting I found were three videos by Vugar Efendi on film scenes inspired by famous works of art. Some are a bit of a stretch, but there are others that are very obviously lifted straight form the paintings. There an IMDB poll that lists many films and the paintings that inspired them, same with Flavorwire, Empire,

FILM MEETS ART from Vugar Efendi on Vimeo.

FILM MEETS ART II from Vugar Efendi on Vimeo.

FILM MEETS ART III from Vugar Efendi on Vimeo.

At this site, we see advertising campaigns inspired by art, such as this advert for a blender based on Rene Magritte’s work ‘The Son of Man’

Magimix: Magritte
Print advertisement created by ‏Y&R, Israel for Magimix, within the category: Electronics, Technology.
The Son of Man, 1964 (oil on canvas)
The Son of Man, 1964 (oil on canvas), Magritte, Rene (1898-1967) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie’s Images / Bridgeman Images

Artist Stefano Bolcato has painted many versions of famous artworks populated by LEGO people, and you can see some of those here.

The Royal Academy produced a list in 2017 of the ‘10 most parodied artworks of all time‘ and it includes the Mona Lisa, American Gothic, and The Last Supper.
Another artist re-imagining famous works is Adam Lister, who turns them into pixelated watercolour paintings.
Artist Ron English attempts to make politically, religious, and consumerist statements with his re-worked, pop-culture, versions of famous art.
Here‘s another list of modern remakes, many were submissions to’s remake project that was run in conjunction with Adobe.
This is a very long list of artworks turned into modern memes, which was amusing, but I don’t think any of them are really appropriate for this task.
One of my favourite artworks of all time is Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I don’t know why, but I just love it and even wanted to theme my whole wedding around it at one point (I didn’t, sadly!).
The Starry Night, June 1889 (oil on canvas)
There are so many re-imagined version of this painting, and it has been referenced many times in popular culture. It was even used as a part-background on the film poster for Woody Allen’s 2011 film ‘Midnight in Paris‘: previously mentioned Vugar Efendi has a video specifically about Van Gogh paintings influencing films and it showed is a scene in the 2009 animated film Coraline that very much uses the Starry Night artwork as a background.

Going back to advertisements that use works of art, here is a list of TV ads inspired or incorporating famous pieces, and here is one by The Drum.

After searching around the internet and trawling through all these different lists, I think I have decided on using Grant Woods’ 1930s painting ‘American Gothic’.

American Gothic, 1930 (oil on beaver board)
American Gothic, 1930 (oil on beaver board) , Wood, Grant (1891-1942) / The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA / Friends of American Art Collection / Bridgeman Images

The image has been re-appropriated, re-imagined, and parodied in all kids of adverts, TV shows, films and magazines over the years, but I am drawn to either of the two below magazine covers as examples to use in this assignment:

Parody of Grant Wood's painting American Gothic showing subjects with various ''hip'' accoutrements.
Time. Hipper Than Thou. Aug. 8, 1994
Forbes November 17, 1986
Forbes. November 17, 1986

Unfortunately, I can’t access the articles that go along with these covers, but I there is enough information on them and around the internet to gather what they are about. The Time magazine article is quoted in many papers, such as Wes Hill’s 2015 piece titled  A hipster history: Towards a post- critical aesthetic.

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