The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists

The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists

The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists

The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists

Synopsis

In this first book of interviews with visual artists from across Texas, more than sixty artists reflect on topics from formative influences and inspirations to their common engagement with found materials. Beyond the art itself, no source is more primary to understanding art and artist than the artist's own words. After all, who can speak with more authority about the artist's influences, motivations, methods, philosophies, and creations?

Since 2010, Robert Craig Bunch has interviewed sixty-four of Texas' finest artists, who have responded with honesty, clarity, and--naturally--great insight into their own work. None of these interviews has been previously published, even in part. Incorporating a striking, full-color illustration of each artist's work, these absorbing self-examinations will stand collectively as a reference of lasting value.

Excerpt

The past century of art history has witnessed a revolution in the use of found materials, sparked by Picasso’s (fig. 1) and Braque’s 1912 forays into cut and pasted papers. Duchamp would soon follow suit with his “readymades” of found objects. A world of materials found comfortable homes in Dada, Surrealism, Arte Povera, Fluxus, Land Art, Installation Art, Conceptualism, and other movements and trends. Anything and everything was potentially a medium of art. While drawing, painting, and carved, modeled, or cast sculpture continue to thrive, found materials are ubiquitous and their use is second nature to contemporary artists.

Yet outside the mainstreams of modern and contemporary art, the appropriation of found materials for artistic purposes is perhaps as ancient as art itself. The pigments of the cave painters were found—as were the walls they adorned. Bone, shell, rock, clay, horn, and feather have served artists from millennia past to the present day. Children and other “outsiders” to the art world have always found it natural to appropriate whatever materials were readily at hand.

From this project’s beginning it was my intention to interview artists who work with found materials. For some, a profound feeling for certain found objects is the inspiration; for others, the choice of materials always serves a larger end. They may find their materials in the street, in their home, in an antique shop, on the studio floor, in the media, or in the natural world—anywhere, really, short of an art supply store with paints, brushes, canvas, plaster, or other traditional art materials to be traditionally employed. Yet as I write, I picture paintbrushes used as found elements in artworks by Steve Wiman and Bert Long. But isn’t that the case with found materials in art generally? They live a second, third, or fourth life that nature or manufacturer (as the case may be) did not intend or foresee.

Rationale

This book is intended for the art-curious everywhere. While it is Texans who by proximity and natural inclination will gravitate most to its subject, it is the larger world beyond Texas that has the most to learn. It will be enlightened and occasionally, I hope, astounded. The fact that the artists have lived and worked in Texas—the vast majority still do—does not make them regionalist artists by style, subject matter, or any other obvious measure. Yet like artists everywhere, they are almost necessarily influenced consciously or subconsciously by the geography, people, concerns, or materials with which they are most intimately in touch. Allusions to Texas in the pieces reproduced here from the works of Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Gary Sweeney, and Jonathan Rosenstein are atypical of their oeuvres and anything but stereotypical.

Beyond the art itself, no source is more primary to understanding art and artist than his or her words. After all, who can speak with more authority about their own influences, motivations, methods, philosophies, and creations? Amazingly enough, there exists no prior book of interviews with artists from across Texas. (Susie Kalil edited an extremely important, and underknown, issue of the magazine Art Lies [no. 24, Fall 1999], “devoted entirely to interviews with Texas artists born before the early 1940s,” including several featured in this book.) Since 2010 I have interviewed more than sixty of Texas’ finest artists with the . . .

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