1 – Looking at found objects in fine art
The word Found Object originates from the French objet trouvé, which is used to describe an art form that has been created from objects that have been discarded or unwanted and are usually changed by the artist in some way to become art.The objects in their usual context are not considered art but have become so by some modification.
As early as 1912 the idea was introduced by Pablo Picasso in his painting Still Life with Chair Caning where he pasted a printed image of chair caning into his painting.
Marcel Duchamp continued with the concept and in 1917 presented quite normal manufactured objects as art, the most famous being Fountain. He simply chose items, tilted, perhaps joined them together or signed with a joke name them to make them art. The collection throughout his lifetime consisted of 20 objects and were collectively called Readymades.
Other artists like Kurt Schwitters, a German painter who is generally acknowledged as the twentieth century’s greatest master of collage used everyday paper materials, tram tickets and buttons etc. in his montages. His style is one that many, including myself can relate to and admire even today.
Schwitters was considered far ahead of his time and has been said to have strongly influenced the art of assemblage of the neo-Dadaist artist, Robert Rauschenberg.
Rauschenberg was an American artist and his art form was more commonly referred as assemblage being a process within the visual arts that consists of making three-dimensional or two-dimensional artistic compositions by putting together found objects. He is best known for his “Combines” work during the 50’s which were made from non-traditional art materials and objects used in innovative combinations. In 1961 there was an exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art called “The Art of Assemblage” which included art work that could not be easily defined in the traditional painting and sculpture genres. The exhibition showcased the work of artists such as Picasso, Duchamp and also Rauschenberg.
The inclusion of everyday objects within their work or forming the main basis of their work has now become an acceptable practice for artists and more recently there are artists who like to, perhaps, push the limits of art and shake things up a bit by prompting questions “ is it really art?”.
Throughout the 1990s, the Young British Artists (YBAs) made extensive use of found “objects”, often with very strong press reaction. Damien Hirst being a prime example who exhibited a shark preserved in formaldehyde in a glass tank titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. He has taken this to extremes by presenting in the same way a cow and calf cut into sections, and, in A Thousand Years, a rotting cow’s head, maggots and flies.
My Bed by Tracey Emin was created in 1998 and short listed for the Turner Prize although it didn’t win. It was literally her own bed as it was the day she got out of it and exposes her lifestyle and personality traits. It’s not to everyone taste but regardless of how we all might feel about it her bravery and courage in believing it to be art and revealing such honesty with the public has to be admired.
So this has left me with 2 questions that I’m asking of myself. If a “found object” is considered worthy of a place within an exhibition or gallery does that instantly endorse it has a piece of art and also where are the boundaries between “found art” “assemblages” “montages” and “collages” and also more recent terms such as “altered art” or even “eco-art” and “up-cycled art” ? I will need to think these over.
Website – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_art and other individual searches on artists.
Book – Robert Rauschenberg The Museum of Modern Art
2 – Looking at found objects in work on a more commercial scale
For years there has been a” make do and mend” spirit and this can be seen through history and in all countries but for now I’m just going to concentrate on Britain. The idea of working with found fabrics and materials is not a new one and generations before ours were well practiced at this and especially so during times of austerity such as the war when it became necessary to regard items as having another life. It was only during the post war years that we have fallen fowl of consumerism.
From a design aspect, there is, however a fine line between the current trend of painting furniture and the knocking back to a distressed look to achieve the lived in farmhouse look of “shabby chic” and something that has been significantly improved upon to become a more considered design piece with a better aesthetic appeal.
Following are some examples from designers and collectives all up-cycling items into new interesting and individual pieces.
http://www.melodyrose.co.uk – UK designer who prints onto reclaimed china.
http://www.katchabilek.com – UK based designer making a range of designer and bespoke hand bags from tyre inner tubes.
GARY HARVEY – fashion
British fashion designer who has created a collection called EcoCoutre using 100% recycled clothing to convey the political message of garment waste and recycling.
REBECCA EARLY – Textiles and Fashion
UK textile designer who alongside her teaching and own design practice has embarked on a long term project concerned with eco design theories. She has long collected polyester shirts form charity shops and the like and has taken 100 shirts or blouses and undertaken an experimental and collaborative up-cycling research project. “ adding value by design” is the concept behind the project.
Below is an image showing an item from the Twice upcycled project.
ONLINE SHOPPING FOR ETHICAL AND ECO FRIENDLY SHOPPING
Fashion – This website has 2 dedicated sections with their range that offer reclaimed or recycled items. Their aim is reclaim, recycle and offer re-purposed products alongside fair-trade and sustainability items.
Products for the home
http://www.bottlealleyglass.co.uk – Glass tiles and splash backs made from recycled glass.
http://www.tactile-interiors.co.uk – Lampshades made from recycled plastic bottles.
http://www.ecocentric.co.uk – Vases made from discarded beer and wine bottles.
COLLECTIVE FURNITURE STORES
http://www.littletreefurniture.co.uk – This Company sells updated industrial items and old furniture that has been made into new more aesthetically pleasing furniture.
THE OLD CINEMA
Based in London, an old cinema is now home to a collection of vintage items, many of which have been re-vamped and up-cycled having a dedicated section on the website index.
ON LINE SHOPPING FOR DESIGNERS TO SELL DIRECT TO PUBLIC
Etsy has a big cultural following of all manner of up-cycled items. A few are detailed below.
Knitwear jumper cushion – The Remakerie
Bags from old suit jackets – SaltSpringTweed
Up-cycled silver cutlery – WoodenHive
Crochet bow1 from up-cycled pillowcase – Shopallthings
Bottle gift bags from old shirt sleeves – Mamacateyes.
Another online market place for handmade and hand crafted items from upcycled products
Cushions from tea towels – Clarecarterdesigns
Earings from ring pulls
Postage stamp key ring – LeisureTime
LOCAL TO ME
http://www.texworks.co.uk Small shop in Lacock, Wiltshire that has a regular turnover of one off up-cycled items and also runs workshops on how to employ this technique to update clothes, soft furnishings and house hold items.
Make and sell items from reclaimed materials
BURFORD GARDEN CENTRE, Burford – has dedicated space with in their large retail space dedicated to pre-loved items, many of which has been updated in some way. The ones that particularly caught my attention were tables and chairs made from the wood of Indonesian fishing boats. The layers of peeling paint were so enticing but at £1500 a table they are something I can only admire from afar!
And at the end of my research I discovered this useful site
http://www.recycledproducts.org.uk which can redirect to various companies dealing with upcycled and recycled products.
Apologies for some photos being small.