Engagement with Mass Media

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Artists' engagement with mass media dates back to the 19th century, notably French artist Honoré Daumier's association with the anti-monarchist daily newspaper Le Charivari, which beginning in 1832 was the first to illustrate its pages with lithographs. This proved to be an effective medium for widely distributing political caricatures as well as scenes of everyday life. In the 20th century, artists turned to addressing the form and content of messages distributed by mass media, particularly television. For instance, Nam June Paik's early experimentations in video art frequently involved the appropriation and distortion of television footage, while Andy Warhol's repetitive silkscreens of such images blurred the lines between critical and celebratory. Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica included television screens in his “Tropicalia” installations, joining an international group of artists in the 1960s interested in subverting mass media strategies for different ends. Since then, artists have made use of such images in a number of ways, among them Richard Prince's and Gilbert & George's appropriations.

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