Did you know that the term found art, or in French, object trouve, describes art that is created from objects that are not normally considered art, often because they have a common household or industrial function?
Marcel Duchamp was the originator of this in the early 20th century. He assembled the first piece entitled Bicycle Wheel in 1913, the same year as his Nude Descending a Staircase was attracting the attention of critics at the International Exhibition of Modern Art.
His Bottle Rack is a bottle drying rack signed by Duchamp and is considered the first “pure” example of found art.
The context in which a found object is placed, a gallery or museum for example, is usually relevant in understanding the intention of the artist. The idea of dignifying commonplace objects in this way, was originally a shocking challenge to the accepted distinction between what was traditionally considered art vs. that which was not. Museums typically show works made from traditional materials using techniques formally taught in art schools or in studios. Today however, museums are presenting works in more diverse media. These exhibits often showcase the work of a growing number of artists who reuse materials, and create new objects from cast-offs including old metal cans or recycled rubber.
Decorating with found art is a perfect way to get really creative. Flea markets are a wonderful place to source found objects. I recently found a colorful 1918 vintage seltzer bottle which I filled with au de cologne and display on my bathtub; and, an old glass buoy, overgrown with barnacles, that sits on my dining table as a centerpiece. With a little imagination and a fresh eye, found objects are often affordable and make fabulous conversation at the dinner table.