Object Art: History, Characteristics, Representatives And Works

The  object art  is a kind of artistic expression in which any object of everyday life is incorporated in artistic production, thereby replacing a traditional canvas. In other words, it is an artistic work that is made from an ordinary object, which can be of natural or industrial origin.

These objects may have been acquired or found by the artist, who decides how the primary essence and utility of these artifacts will be modified. The authors who decide to express themselves through this art propose that the usual painting and sculpture no longer serve to represent the events of the individual and current societies.


Object art, like conceptual art and all those postmodern manifestations, is characterized by rejecting nineteenth-century artistic movements, which is why it moves away from traditional representations and questions the existential status of the work as an object.

This art is also characterized by substituting theory for traditional iconography, which is why it is necessary to establish a series of artistic manifestos so that observers can adequately understand the precepts proposed by new trends.

In other words, it is necessary that both artists and art critics make a series of texts that seek to clarify the process of the objectual artistic phenomenon.

This is due to the fact that before the arrival of contemporary art, the works did not need any explanation, since they represented empirical reality; With the arrival of abstract and / or conceptual art, the figure of a specialist is necessary to explain what the author tried to capture in his work.

Origin and history

The sixties

With the arrival of the sixties, the plastic arts decided to abandon the introverted informalism of the previous decade, together with the last elements corresponding to nineteenth-century romantic-idealistic models.

With this abandonment of traditional glimpses, new iconographic conventions and visual grammars emerged, sparking a flowering of representative trends.

It can be established that in 1960 two initial alternatives were generated in terms of artistic manifestations: some artists decided to deepen the syntactic-formal renovations, while others devoted themselves to the semantic and pragmatic dimensions, downplaying the importance of the form.

Both currents had in common the rejection of the institutionalized borders of the artistic movements that had been inherited from the tradition, especially towards the disciplines of painting and sculpture.

Innovation and novelty

From that moment on, the artists not only sought to break with everything established, but also aimed to search for continuous innovation and to make something new that was not at all similar to the other proposals.

With the rise of capitalism and pop culture, the artists of the sixties were forced to compete to be part of the novelty and new trends, for which they were forced to experiment with objects and with elements that they had never entered the art world before.

Similarly, although the object artist — both then and now — seeks innovation and public acceptance, he also wishes to express his dissatisfaction with the different social problems of the postmodern world.

For example, Marcel Duchamp, a pioneer of object art, decided to place a urinal in an art exhibition, in order to criticize the ease with which the masses, along with critics, accepted anything as if it were a work of art; in this way he demonstrated how art had lost its real value.


As a postmodern genre, object art has a number of characteristics that it shares with conceptual art. These characteristics are the following:

-The object art seeks to break not only with traditional representations, but also gets rid of the canvas and other materials typical of what was nineteenth-century art. This has the purpose of testing other plastic expressions and establishing the loss of validity of these artifacts.

-This movement allows the use of everyday objects to create artistic works, from the most common to the most rejected, such as Duchamp’s urinal. Likewise, the essence of this art resides in the way in which the objects evoke in the viewer a series of sensations that respond to the modern and industrial episteme.

-Another fundamental characteristic of this type of plastic tendency consists of the “de-aestheticization” of the aesthetic; that is, object art seeks to subtract beauty from the artistic object to make it something more grotesque and common.

-It tries to insert new sensibilities and modalities through the use of a dialectic between objects and subjective senses. Furthermore, in many cases the object fulfills an ironic or artificial function.

Representatives and works

Marcel Duchamp and the ready-made

The ready-made is a concept devised by the author himself; However, Duchamp himself claimed that he had not found a satisfactory way to define his creation.

In general terms, it is about creating works of art from the selection of objects; that is, the object becomes a work of art the moment the artist selects it.

These selected objects must be visually indifferent to the author (he must perceive them without emotional charge), so there is a limitation regarding the number of ready-mades that an artist can make.

As for Marcel Duchamp’s works of the objectual and ready-made style , the best known are those entitled Bicycle wheel on a stool , Bottle holder and his well-known urinal, entitled The Fountain . Another well-known work of Duchamp was called Peigne , which consisted of a comb for dogs that had his initials.

Francisco Brugnoli: the renowned Latin American object artist

Francisco Burgnoli is a visual artist born in Santiago de Chile, who has stood out for his object proposals and for making collages. It is currently one of the most important representatives of this genre.

Brugnoli is recognized for his work entitled Nature blue , although he also has other important manifestations, such as his works Foods and   Do not trust.

At present, object art has other younger representatives who are still in the development of their artistic proposal, such as Francisca Aninat, Carlos Altamirano and Gonzalo Aguirre.


  1. (SA) (sf) Francisco Brugnoli. Retrieved on April 21, 2019 from Museo Nacional Bellas Artes, Chilean visual artists: Artistasvisualeschilenos.cl
  2. González, G. (2016) The object and memory . Retrieved on April 22, 2019 from Universidad de Chile: repositorio.uchile.cl
  3. Marchad, S. (sf) From object art to concept art . Retrieved on April 21, 2019 from Academia: academia.edu
  4. Ramírez, A, (sf) El arte objetual . Retrieved on April 22, 2019 from WordPress: wordpress.com
  5. Rocca, A. (2009) Conceptual art and object art. Retrieved on April 21, 2019 from UNAD: repository.unad.edu.co
  6. Urbina, N. (sf) Conceptual art. Retrieved on April 22, 2019 from ULA: saber.ula.ve

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