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What Does Found Object Art Mean?

Neha B Deshpande
'Found Object Art' literally means finding everyday objects or trash and converting them into interesting and aesthetically appealing objects. This unique form of modern art started in the 20th century, and its early traces can be found in Picasso's and Georges Braque's collage work.
"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web."
― Pablo Picasso
'Found Object Art' reminds us of the quote, 'Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder'. A 'found object' artist sees art in almost everything! He admires the beauty of rusted metal, a lying stone, creased paper, damaged vessel, broken ceramic etc. Ever found a rusted vessel artistic? If not, these artists will help you see things differently, unlike others.


Found object art is creating art out of found objects; turning daily, dull, mundane or even trash objects, into something artistic. Your everyday-use plastic bottles, newspapers, scraps, old books, used plastic, consumer waste, scrap metal, etc., find their way into this art form. Sometimes, it is also created to create social awareness or mock at something.

Found Object Art History, Famous Artists, and Artwork

Let's delve deeper into the history of this art form, and check out some examples.
This art movement was also known as ''object trouvé'. Traces of this art form can be found in the times of the 20th century, when artists such as Pablo Picasso started using broken pieces of pottery to make collages. Georges Braque's use of cubism and 'collage' was one of the earliest types of 'found object art'.

Trivia : Did You Know?

The word collage was coined from the word 'coller', which means 'to stick/glue' in French.
'Readymades' art was termed by Marcel Duchamp, wherein, artworks were positioned in an aesthetic manner, with negligible work to modify. He is famous for his artwork titled 'Fountain', which is a porcelain urinal. He was one of the most influential members of the 'Dada' movement, which promoted using 'found objects' as they were, as artwork.
Born during the World War I around 1916, Dadaism was completely nontraditional and different than the works of typical art connoisseurs. This artwork consisted of mockery of the politics involved in the war, and its side effects on society.
Major artists involved in Dadaism were

♦ Man Ray 
♦ Hans Richter
♦ Jean Arp 
♦ Kurt Schwitters 

The Dada movement eventually gave birth to the Pop Art movement.

Other famous 'found object' artworks

► Fur-lined Teacup (1936, MOMA, New York) by Meret Oppenheim

► Portraits by Jane Perkins, which involve the use of various items: buttons, plastic pieces, etc.

► Kurt Schwitters's collection: 'Merzbau'

Books on Found Object Art

➺ 'Collage, Assemblage, and the Found Object' by 'Diane Waldman '

➺ 'Secrets of Rusty Things: Transforming Found Objects Into Art' by 'Michael Demeng '

➺ 'Found Object Art' by 'Dorothy Spencer '.

Objects Commonly Used

This artwork commonly makes use of the following items

Crumbled paper/newspapers/waste paper
Forks and spoons
Scrap metal
Broken pieces of marbles and tiles
Well, of course this is not an exhaustive list, and an artist can have raw materials in many forms. For example, you can also use old wine bottles to convert them into different creative decor items.

Found Object Art Examples

Found Object Art For kids

A CD made into a color pallet (decor item)
A plastic bottle converted into a piggy bank
A cardboard roll converted into a smart abstract design with the help of wires


Metal scraps and plastic waste converted into sculptures

Plastic Bottle Globe in Amsterdam on IJ Waterway

This globe was intended to create awareness of the hazards of plastic bottles and pollution

Rock Garden Sculptures in Chandigarh

These sculptures are made by Nek Chand, with waste such as tiles, stones, ceramics, etc.

Street Art: Assembly of Items

Scrap metal street art in Williamsburg Brooklyn street of New York

'Trash People' Display in Rome

German artist HA Schult's display in Rome made of consumer waste, such as tins and containers
Found Object Art has opened boundless realms for art, and redefined its meaning. Well, with the growing dump of plastic and e-waste, these artworks may serve as a reminder to us of its potential hazards.
Art is a powerful medium indeed, and kudos to those artists who initiated this brilliant technique.