The ‘Found Object’ of Modern Art

Translated from a phrase in French “objet trouve”, the “found object” in modern art refers to an object found by an artist that he/she modifies minimally and then presents it as a work of art. The artist whose finding it is intends to convey to the viewers, through this art form that there is some aesthetic value attached to the thing he/she used as the art work.

The artist claims that there is some quality in either the form, or appearance or social or personal history of the object that is worthy of appreciation and therefore puts it forward for the same. The modern art can be found displayed at exhibitions and galleries like those at MarkBorghi Fine Art Gallery in New York City. He is an appreciator of art and its various forms.

The materials that are generally used as the ‘found object’ include sand, earth, stones, pieces of wood that are curiously shaped, shells, and a human skull. While these constitute the naturally ‘found object’, there are a few man made things like news paper cut outs, pieces of metal scrap, glass pieces,  an unmade bed, photographs, the handlebars of a cycle, a shard of textile fabric, so on and so forth.

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The use of ‘found objects’ has been made in various different forms of art, be it painting, sculpture or even assemblage and installations. The first person to publicize this idea was none other than the famous Pablo Picasso. He attached a caning chair to his art and named it Still Life with Caning Chair. However, he described his signature style of the found objects in his work named the Fountain.

Though this form of art is claimed to have originated in the 20th century, researchers have found evidence that such objects were used as a part of art in the Paleolithic Age of pre-historic times. The most famous found objects of the 20th century were Duchamp’s “readymades”. This was a predecessor of junk art.

There is a fine line of difference between the ‘found objects’ and the ‘readymades’ that needs to be understood. While the found object has a certain aesthetic value to it for which it is chosen, readymades are objects produced in great masses and they are transformed into art by the artist. Another artist, who created several interesting ‘found objects’ like a domestic iron, horsehair and carved wood, a metronome, etc. is Man Ray.

The use of ‘found objects’ was also seen in the collage and assemblages of Kurt Schwitters. The Surrealists also added to the treasure of found objects with their contributions such as the Lobster Telephone, Fur-lined Teacup, etc. But by far the most striking found object was created by Pablo Picasso titled Head of a Bull.

Even amidst a lot of criticism, the concept of ‘found objects’ is still used in the work of art and appreciated by a great number of people, as long as there are art exhibitions by people like MarkBorghi, the appreciation will continue to grow. It effects are sure to be found in the computer art of the present times as well.

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