In the 1960s, Richard Pettibone began producing unique miniature reproductions of artworks created by contemporary masters such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella. These small jewel-like works are celebrations of the original masterpieces. Towering pioneers of Pop Art are reduced to pocket-sized, hand-painted silkscreens and canvases. Pettibone's works are a conceptual investigation into originality. It can be argued that for Pettibone, art history is subject matter.

Pettibone cites Andy Warhol's 1962 exhibition at Ferus Gallery in LA and the 1963 Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Art Musuem as great influences. Building on the idea of Duchamp's "readymade", Pettibone selected existing artworks as his source material. He began by reproducing artworks from photographs in Artforum magazine: replicating the scale of the advert and adding his own nuanced modifications. He interrogates our understanding of artistic originality with wit and humour. Through appropriating the work of pop art pioneers, Pettibone steers our attention to the way artists such as Warhol furthered existing imagery, cajoling the audience to look at these images in new light.

It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of ideas espoused by the work of Pettibone in relation to contemporary art. From the Chapman Brothers' modification of mint condition etchings by Francisco Goya to Shepard Fairey's use of political photography in his creation of Barack Obama campaign posters, conversations and controversies concerning appropriation continue to preoccupy artists. Already Famous presents work of masterful skill, critical acclaim and artistic innovation by a pioneer of appropriation.

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Richard Pettibone

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