A Contemporary Found Object Artist’s Manifesto Calling for the Long Overdue Retirement of the Dominant Found Object Artist’s Practice of Endlessly Replicating the Beatnik and Before-Genres of Found Object Art

Certainly we the undersigned respect and revere the old guard artists of the Readymade, Collage, Assemblage and Combine genres such as Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, George Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Louis Nevelson, Joseph Cornel, Juan Gris, Robert Rauschenberg, George Hermes, Wallace Berman, Connor Everts, etc., but it amounts to an act of meaningless kitsch for a contemporary artist to endlessly emulate the work of any of the above-mentioned artists and/or their peers in this, the 21st Century. We believe that by association the above practice taints the names of the legitimate and innovative artists that work under the banner of contemporary Found Object Art. Our mission is to resuscitate and redeem the pathetic state of Found Object Art from it’s half-century long stasis as a largely decorative, non-critical, nostalgic hobbyist’s pursuit wherein a mindless approximation of historic artists work dominates. Moreover we feel that as an urgent initial measure to mitigate this crisis, it is critical to call for a cessation of the use by the illegitimate practitioners of the Found Object genre of the following found materials and themes which constitute the fundamental cause of their wrong doing:

Bilateral symmetry, shrines, time pieces, burnt or abused baby dolls, alters, alphabet blocks, tonic bottles, test tubes, beakers, bifocals, Buddhas, buttons, butterflies, bicycles, broken baroque picture frame fragments, foreign currency, feathers, paper ephemera, enlarged letter forms, fake flowers, flags, old wood scraps, maps, cracked vanity mirrors, memory boxes, mannequin hands, gears, Gibson Girls, gods’ eyes, spice grinders, and assorted antique appliances, postage stamps, anatomical and astrological charts, heart forms, playing cards, cartography, candles, Kabala, corks, crescent moons, spoons, runes, reliquaries, memory boxes, locks of hair, rusted antique hardware, sea shells, sheet music, eye masks, sepia-toned photos, lithographic postcards, cupids, putti, test tubes, rusted old tools, spools, skeleton keys, coins, teacups, keepsakes, Taro cards, chess pieces, alarm clocks, skulls, Art Noveau, soiled Scrabble tiles, valentines, old dice, quill pens, ink bottles, bells, bird cages, angels, tobacco pipes, movable type, eyeballs, light bulbs, bones, bottle caps, alchemical apparatus, cracked driftwood, doll house furniture, turned wooden dowels, taxidermy, torn tickets and wings of any kind.

© Patrick M. J. Tierney, 2010, Director of the “Getting Beyond Beatnik Project” contact:


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Comment by Laura S. Sitges on May 4, 2016 at 1:06am

Misters Tierney and Wilson - I'm new to this kind of art, and hence, am new to the deeper philosophical issues involved.  Are you really saying that the average person who feels the need to create an assemblage of things should not be allowed to use such materials as those in the above list? Or are you saying that they should not call themselves practitioners of the Found Object genre if they do, but rather the Assemblage Art genre, or Mixed-Media?  If this is a long-argued point and/or bone of contention, what are the regnant points of the argument?  

Comment by Michael Wilson on April 12, 2016 at 5:16pm
Excepting a few whose works incorporate some of the above mentioned found objects most of the work is at best adolescent and a mish mosh of untrained wannabe artists.Most incorporate a small group of friends to surround and give praise to this whole generation of so called assemblage (loosely termed) crafters. Most of it should and will go on the trash heap of of history. Baby dolls head have become the cliche' that saturates this mindless epidemic of untrained and untaught so called generation of crafters that would like to determined as artists. I grew up in a den of beatniks at the Ferus Gallery and learned jazz bebop piano at an early age which gives me the right to say it's so. Like I say there are plenty of well trained artists who perform this found object art well so hats off to those few. George Herms is probably still the best around in this genre and James Michael Starr as well for a newer generation.
Comment by Jason McHenry on April 1, 2016 at 2:50am

I had an advertising design teacher that once suggested we are allowed to use 5 exclamation points in our whole entire lifetime and that we should use them sparingly. I think that's true and I wonder if this doesn't translate to the objects on your list? I think it does. [Or should.]


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