“Found art” is not an expression denoting pleasure at finding a lost boy named Art. It is a term for making artful things out of what someone finds in the trash, or what should go into the trash.
Found art used to be called hoarding and was a serious condition for which you could lose an old toaster to someone who had arranged an intervention. Now it’s called “found art” as long as you put the old toaster on the newel post at the foot of the stairs. Which might be useful for popping a slice of toast into on your way downstairs. Either that, or a seriously burned crotch from sliding down the banisters right into a toaster.
One woman refused to make her bed one week and instead, made an object of art out of her whole messy area. I could do that, but then what would I do come bedtime? Get the keys to the art gallery so I could use my bed? Plus, her bed was probably shellacked and glued to the floor as protection from the cleaning crew who were seriously confused come closing time.
“Wait!” they yelled after the departing docents. “You forgot your bed! And your disgusting used Kleenex!”
Every night I could donate the dirty dishes to the Museum of Undone Chores. This museum wouldn’t even need a cleaning crew. A cleaning crew would ruin the statement I was trying to make with the dirty dishes.
The French, natch, have “found” a better way to express found art, mainly because it sounds good in French: Objets Trouve (there’s an accent egout, an umlaut, and a transmission over the “e”, but I haven’t found them on my keyboard yet).
The other day, I was conversing with a friend on Facebook. She told me, with appropriate classical pathos–which she didn’t realize until I pointed it out– that “all she had lately was Paris and her painting.” I told her to watch the movie Casablanca if she was going to come up with lines like that.
What I really said was that she needed to go Paris, ASAP, and paint a picture of a pont–which is French for bridge–but since I couldn’t think of a famous French bridge at that moment, I said she should paint Le Pont du Merde, because the word “merde” always springs to mind no matter what.
Merde is French for poop. What could be more found art than a bridge of poop?
Collectors and their collections of found objects of art date back to the 16th century. People put weird things into “curiosity cabinets,” which today translates to “garage,” “utility drawer,” and “stuff Mom’s had in the house for sixty years and now I’ve got to deal with it.” Or, it means that weird and wonderful piece of Americana you find on the highways and byways of this great land of ours, the wacky museum. There’s a museum of bananas, Pez dispensers, salt and pepper shakers, hair, and mustard, among many others.
If you collect it, find it, or inherit it from a crazy relative, you can make a museum out of it and claim it as a non-profit, mainly because it probably will be.
In the 1900s, artists got into the found art act and started gluing bicycle wheels to the top of stools, or throwing stuff for which they couldn’t find a storage space at a spot in their living room and donating the whole thing to a fancy art gallery.
This artful arranging is called “assemblage,” to differentiate it from “found art.” It’s still found art, but now you gotta assemble it into something that makes a statement about our lousy modern society. Like: “The Disruption of The Natural World Through Gluten Free Manufacturing Factories of the MidWest.”
I’ve got a few boxes filled with stuff that my son left behind as he grew up, mostly little toys. I didn’t want to throw them away, but I don’t want to keep storing all of it. I’ll have to either smear a floor with fast drying glue and toss the whole box full at the glue spot (arranging it would take away from the artistry), or glue it nicely to a wreath or something. Once I do that though, it becomes a craft and NOT art. There’s a difference, for cripe’s sake.
For that matter, I could lift our entire backyard and donate it to a museum, claiming a generous tax deduction for this unselfish act of patronage. I will do this before I rake the dog poop, because artists have shown us the value of poop. “Still Life With Nails, Poop, and an Empty Gazebo” will set the art world on fire!
Piero Manzoni put his own poop into 92 cans and called it “Artist’s Shit,” and sold them for a great deal of money. My bridge of poop isn’t looking so bad now, huh?
Of course, the bridge will be named in French to command more money: Le Pont du Merde d’un Jeune Artiste Pour Beaucoup D’Argent. So artistic.