Junk Art

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  • Topic: Sculpture, Art, Alexander Calder
  • Pages : 13 (4322 words )
  • Download(s) : 109
  • Published : January 14, 2012
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History of Junk Art Sculpture4

Chapter 1: Junk sculptors8

Chapter 2: Interview 116

Chapter 3: Interview 223



From 5000 B.C to well into the 20th century A.D, most sculpture has reflected the wealth, religion or political stature of the country. Early Egyptian sculpture reflected the political regime of the land, and powerful ‘Pharaohs’ demanded monumental sized tombs and artefacts to show their wealth and status. At the end of the 7th century B.C the Greeks perfected castings of the human form to depict Gods and historical religious figures, installing pride and hope within their followers. In Japan, massive sculptures proved the country’s devotion to religion and faith, but also reflected its domination of people. All forms of sculpting were so aesthetically pleasing e.g. gold, marble and bronze etc…, intricately detailed, and nearly all commissioned by people of power. So why in recent years have artists been discarding the skills and beautiful detail of previous forms of sculpture, in favour of using ‘junk’ materials, useless in terms of their original functions they were created for? Modern Sculpture now seems to be the random collage of forgotten scrap, or is there deep intellectual thought into the selection of these discarded materials?

There are still modern artists and sculptors who create intricate body forms and get commissions to demonstrate the mastering of their skills in art, but their art is not is not ‘mainstream’ and it doesn’t win the prestigious ‘Turner prize’ or get placed in the “Tate modern.” Instead an old washing machine or an unmade bed causes the masses to turn their heads in wonder and thought.

What I want to find out is why junk materials play such a big role in modern sculpture? How do these materials help to carry a message when “arranged?” To help me in my quest for knowledge I shall try to contact artists with slightly different views and uses for junk art sculpture. Research into the traditional materials used in more ‘ancient’ times and try to show the progression from old to new mediums.

History of Junk Art Sculpture

Junk art sculpture didn’t prominently appear as an art ‘trend’ until the 1960’s, although it can be argued that using ‘Junk’ in sculpture can date back to Inuit and African tribes. In the 1960’s traditional materials of rock and bronze had become mundane for sculptors, and so ‘Junk art’ emerged as a progressive change to create artwork as everything could be sculpted. Modern junk art sculpture did not however appear in an instant and its roots in surrealist paintings can be evidently seen with the works of Dali and Picasso, where using objects in a surreal form became a visual connection between real life and the surreal world. Junk art sculptures can convey surrealism perfectly to the public, and has resulted in junk/found objects becoming one of the most popular forms of materials for modern sculptors.

Marcel Duchamp created surreal art sculptures which he called ‘ready made.’ His work could arguably be described as the first junk art sculptures.

Traditional materials in sculpture can be sourced back to mud and clay used in the stone ages which derived from ‘bas relief’ pictures of animals etc… usually on the walls of caves. Fragments of bone and ivory have been found with carvings and in the later stone ages had been carved into completely rounded figures (3D). When copper was the first metal to be found (as early as 5000B.C in Egypt), utensils and carving tools could be made but copper was still found to be too soft to carve rock, but an alloy of copper and tin was found to be much more resistant – bronze. Only then with instruments made of bronze did it become possible to carve softer stone (such as gypsum) and wear down harder stone. At around 500B.C iron became widely available to...
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