Arts & Entertainment

Turn Everyday Objects Into Art

Jeff Koons

Lesson time 13:59 min

Learn about the tradition of the readymade and how to turn an everyday object into something extraordinary.

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Topics include: The Revelation of the Readymade · Create Meaning in Everyday Objects · The Real Readymade


JEFF KOONS: I want to show you how you can turn everyday objects into works of art through the tradition of the readymade. The term readymade came about through Marcel Duchamp making a wordplay. Marcel Duchamp took a urinal and just placed it in an exhibition. He signed it "R. Mutt," and he called it "Fountain." So instead of being a urinal, he laid it just on its side, and it's a fountain. And this had a huge uproar. If you have a urinal and it's in the context of a bathroom, it's a urinal. If you take it out of the bathroom, it can still look like a urinal, but it can start to change and perform in different ways. And so it's referencing looking at an object and pulling it from its everyday life situation and bringing it into art, bringing it into a context where it could take on different meanings. You could look at a spatula, and seeing it lay on a countertop and think it's a spatula. And somebody could take that object, bring it within another context and look at it, and you could think that its meaning, its purpose is for something completely different. You could look at it and think, oh, this is to be-- I don't know-- a surgical instrument. It could completely change. This could be the springboard to all life. It would be a different context that it's presented. And that can be done through linguistics. It can be done through signs, images, all different uses of information and the senses to re-contextualize something. I remember being in Greece one time. And I had a tour guide, an art historian. And he was telling me that, "Jeff, the readymade's always been here." And a villager would find a temple that's collapsed and he would see part of the arch that was above the top of the columns and think, "I'm gonna put that at home above my door at the entrance of the house." And he would carry that stone home and place it above the entrance to his home. He said, that's the history of the readymade. [MUSIC PLAYING] My whole life, I was always a painter. And there was a lot of sexual qualities to it. But I wanted my work to be more objective. I wanted to move into a different realm. I even felt myself physically needing to change. I'd walk down the street and sometimes I'd feel like my legs were just gonna give out from underneath me, that I would fall down. I really needed something. There was a moment when I made a piece, "Inflatable Bunny, Inflatable Flower," that I was really overwhelmed with the power of the image. I sat it on a 12 by 12 inch store bought mirror. And beside it, I put another 12 by 12 inch store bought mirror and put an inflatable flower. And then I propped up two mirrors on the wall behind them. And these were all readymade objects you could just buy on the street. But the intensity of the experience through color, through reflection, through light, and through the nature of the material of these objects-- it was overwhelming. And I realized that I was connecting to something much bigger than I...

About the Instructor

One of the most important and influential artists working today, Jeff Koons is perhaps best known for his iconic Balloon Dog. Now he’s inviting you to an intimate, thought-provoking conversation about the history, purpose, and pleasures of art. Learn how color, scale, form, and texture can help you express ideas and communicate with others. Leave your self-judgment and fear behind—the world is waiting for your art.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons teaches you how color, scale, form, and more can help you channel your creativity and create the art that’s in you.

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