Found Object: Wine Label

I was in Trader Joe’s recently with a friend of mine who is an architect when I discovered a new wine in the wine section. I admit that my lust was merely visual: I didn’t care what the wine actually tasted like; I just had to have the bottle. I was attracted to the label, so I bought the wine. My friend admitted that he often buys a wine based upon the label too.

A few years ago I had a similar experience: a designer friend and I were strolling through the aisles of a new wine store in town. We delighted in the label design, both often drawn to the same design for the same reasons. Years earlier, I remember a graphic designer who remarked that she thought designing a wine label was a plum project (pun unintended).

The label on my new purchase is especially interesting, as the brand is called “Found Object.” OK, I did find it. But the reference is to an art movement in the early part of the last century. A found object is a surrealist trick whereupon the artist takes an object that is normally NOT considered art, and makes it into art. Often the artist achieves an “aha” in the viewer by turning the object over, or combining the object with others to produce a visual resemblance to another, unconnected subject.

The term found art—more commonly found object (French: objet trouvé) describes art created from undisguised, but often modified, objects that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a non-art function.Pablo Picasso first publicly utilized the idea when he pasted a printed image of chair caning onto his painting titled Still Life with Chair Caning (1912). Marcel Duchamp perfected the concept when he made a series of “readymades”—completely unaltered everyday objects selected by Duchamp and designated as art—several years later. The most famous example is Fountain (1917), a standard urinal purchased from a hardware store and displayed on a pedestal, resting on its side.— Wikipedia

Needless to say, this little urinal-turned-fountain art-that-was-not-art had repercussions throughout the art world. Some people still react to this image even though this piece is now almost 100 years old.

One of my favorite examples of found art is the Picasso bull, made from the seat of a bicycle and handlebars. It’s an elegant piece that takes pieces from the same utilitarian object and presents it to the viewer in such a way that he is forced to a different conclusion.

It takes a creative mind to look at something that one sees everyday and suddenly see it in a new way. It takes an artist to transform that glimpse into a form that others can now see.


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