Found Object – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Theory Glossary

What is Found Object?

Found object, also known as readymade, is a term used in the world of art to describe an object that is not traditionally considered art but is selected and displayed as such. These objects are typically everyday items that are found or purchased by an artist and presented in a new context, challenging the traditional notions of art and creativity.

History of Found Object in Art

The concept of found object can be traced back to the early 20th century with the work of artist Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp is credited with popularizing the idea of the readymade with his piece “Fountain,” a urinal that he signed and submitted as art in 1917. This groundbreaking work challenged the traditional definitions of art and paved the way for future artists to explore the use of found objects in their work.

Found Object in Contemporary Art

In contemporary art, found object continues to be a popular and influential practice. Artists often use found objects to create thought-provoking and visually striking pieces that challenge societal norms and spark conversation. By incorporating everyday items into their work, artists are able to explore themes of consumerism, identity, and the environment in new and innovative ways.

Famous Found Object Artists

There have been many notable artists throughout history who have embraced the use of found objects in their work. Some of the most famous include Louise Nevelson, who used discarded wood and other materials to create intricate sculptures, and Robert Rauschenberg, who incorporated found objects into his mixed media paintings. Other notable artists who have worked with found objects include Joseph Cornell, Man Ray, and Ai Weiwei.

Criticisms and Controversies Surrounding Found Object

While found object has been celebrated for its ability to challenge traditional notions of art, it has also faced criticism and controversy. Some critics argue that using found objects is a lazy form of art-making that lacks originality and skill. Others question the authenticity of found object pieces, arguing that simply selecting and displaying an object does not make it art. Despite these criticisms, found object continues to be a popular and influential practice in the art world.

Impact of Found Object on Art Theory and Criticism

The use of found objects in art has had a significant impact on art theory and criticism. By challenging traditional definitions of art and creativity, found object has forced critics and scholars to reevaluate their understanding of what constitutes art. This has led to a broader and more inclusive definition of art that embraces a wide range of materials and practices. Additionally, the use of found objects has inspired new ways of thinking about the relationship between art and everyday life, blurring the boundaries between the two.