Found object” art describes artwork that uses objects not typically specified as art supplies.  Found object artists manipulate objects, essentially make them into something new, yet still keep the original objects recognisable.

top row) Marcel Duchamp, “Bicycle Wheel”, 1916; Man Ray, “Object to Be Destroyed”, 1923; Pablo Picasso, “Bull’s Head”, 1942 — (bottom row) Louise Nevelson, “Royal Tide, Dawn”, 1960-64; Ai Weiwei, “Grapes”, 2011; Kyle Bean, “Which Came First”, 2011

In this unit you will explore the BIG Art idea that

“An artist’s intention transforms materials into art”.

What is meant by this?  When does a material become a work of art? Can anything be considered Art?  How does one judge good art from bad?  What makes a good artist? How can a bicycle seat be anything else?


Art has a history and throughout Art’s history Art has changed its identity. In Renaissance times, for example, Art was thought to be the product of the skill of using paints, marble-carving and drawing materials to replicate real life. 

But Art has not always been defined that way.  Exactly 100 years ago artists challenged the old idea of skillfully using paint and marble as artmaking and came up with a different identity for Art. 

 Art History and what is Art?

Found object art really wasn’t seen in the art world until the 20th century.  Its very first appearances were very controversial.  That’s what art has the power to do – challenge one’s ideas about something, and help the world to see a bit differently.

In about 1915 a new artistic movement began, called “Dada”.  Like all good art movements Dada tried to challenge the conventional standards and definitions of art. One aspect of their movement was tthe idea that anything could be art, and anyone could be an artist. A very influential Dada artist named Marcel Duchamp presented what he called “readymade” sculptures, consisting of an object like a urinal or a bicycle wheel, mounted on some kind of pedestal, and labelled as “art.” It might go without saying that many art critics and everyday people had conflicting responses to such a statement! But Marcel Duchamp insisted that Art was more than pushing coloured paint around on a canvas to make it look like someone.  He believed that art was about ideas more than just craftsmanship.  He insisted that good artists created new theories and concepts and that the act of creating fresh new ways of seeing was the real act of art making.

Please watch this short film on Marcel Duchap’s “The Readymade” art:

Assignment –“The Readymade”:

You need to experience what Marcel Duchamp was getting at.

For this assignment you are to choose an ordinary article of everyday life.  You are to put it in a place so that its useful significance disappears, give it a new title and a significance so that it has a totally different concept or way of being.   For example I might choose a pair of scissors, put them on my face and look through the handles and title this new significance “Look Sharply”.  In this way the scissors are no longer the cutting tool that we know them to be but instead are a face apparel.

That’s my idea, my new creation, therefore that’s my art.  It might not look that great, but beauty is not part of the Dada definition of art.  Creative ideas is.

Please take a photograph of your “Readymade Art” in its new way of being.

Think of a title for the new artwork.

Email me the photo with the Title of your art work.

Marks for this assignment are earned through creative thinking and newness of your idea.

Please complete this assignment by Thursday, June 4.  We will meet and share our art on Teams.

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