Tuesday, March 23

My inner battle with found object art

This weekend I went to the farmers market alone. This is a little dangerous considering this little weakness that I have... You see, I like things made out of found objects and one of the best places to find these sorts of things is at a farmers market.

Just in case you are scratching your head wondering what a found object has to do with art, here is a brief history. Found objects found their way into the mainstream art world around 1920 as a part of a greater artistic movement called Dadaism. Found object art work, also known as assemblage, is made out of random stuff you might find on the street, around your house or in a junk yard. Some of it will blow you away and some of it you may want to just throw away. And some of it really is, literally, trash. It's a strange genre. That's why I heart (most) of it.

Mechanical Bird by Jim Mullan
Left Bank Gallery, Orleans, MA
(made from an old hunting decoy and other found objects)

The first "official" found object artist was French father of Dada, Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp's famous 1917 work, Fountain, is arguably one of the most influential and most controversial art pieces of the post-modern art world. Why? Well...

Reproduction of Fountain (original lost)
Photographed by Alfred Stieglitz

...its a urinal. He found it, signed it with his alias and submitted to an art show. Most art historians will tell you that Duchamp's intention was for Fountain to be part commentary, part joke. Whatever his intention, Dechamp's found object jumpstarted a huge movement that reshaped the definition of art and led to millions of people uttering the phrase "that is not art!"

Now back to my inner battle.

I think this pug, made out of belt buckles, kitchen utensils and air-conditioning unit parts, is awesome. And, if I had no self-control, less judgmental friends (just kidding!) and loads of money, I would buy it. Today.

Pug by Leo Sewell

Since I do not want to weird out my friends and family by filling my house with life-size dogs covered in discarded wrenches and coke machine hoses, I fight the urge to bring such found object art home. My husband, who makes no secret of the fact that he hates found object art (especially the yard variety), reminds me every so often that I am not buy anything that even remotely resembles this:

Armadillo? via etsy

Or this:

Butterfly may out of toilet bowl buoy, via etsy

But let me tell you, this weekend's trip to the farmer market trip was a full on war. I almost came home with a few new pets:

I love pigs but the goat is my favorite. I think it would
be funny sitting next to the trash can in my kitchen.

I'm not into all types of found object art though. Bugs, robots and life-sized people made out of shovels and recycled car parts don't do anything for me. However, I find religious figurines, farm animals and things made out of license plates nearly irresistible.

I did give in to the temptation once on the side of the road in New Mexico when I was 19. I bought a small, rusted industrial can top covered in purple glitter with a holy card and some fake flowers and plastic gems hot glued to it. I just had to have it. (I believe Jenny has something similar, her's is teal.) My little New Mexican assemblage has been proudly displayed in a dorm room, an apartment and a condo kitchen. It now it lives on the book shelf in my home office. Every time I see it, I smile. That's probably weird.

I have desperately wanted one of these since first spotting it in a store window display in California many years ago.

via Apartment Therapy

They are all over the place now, so it is really only a matter of time...

And I can promise you that if I ever come face to face with a pig made out of license plates, my husband is out of luck. I'm a goner. That porker is going on the kitchen island.

Pig by Leo Sewell
NDI Gallery, London

1 comment:

  1. The United State license plate art was in a window in Carmel, CA.