What is junk art?

Ever seen a piece of scrap metal on the side of the road and thought,"that's a neat looking thing. Too bad it is junk and is obviously useless." If so, then you are guilty of a common phallacy: underestimating the power of junk. Like a blank canvas, what you might consider to be junk can be transformed into a wondrous work of art. All that you need is a little creativity and elbow grease, and you too can create a superb piece of junk(art)!

Brief history of junk artFountain by Marcel Ducamp

In order to tell the history of junk art, I should tell you about its predecessor, found art. Found art emerged in the early 20th century and indicates that the work is made completely from manufactured objects that the artist found him or herself. It was considered a radical art form in its early years because its value is determined from the context in which it is made, redefining the very idea of art at the time. An artist named Marcel Ducamp is considered the father of found art, although he referred to his work as "readymade". One of his most famous works, "Fountain" (pictured right), was made from a urinal and caused quite an uproar in the art world when it was shown in 1917, so much so that it was rejected by the 1917 jury of the Society of Independent Artists . The concept of found art was soon adopted by the Dada movement with artists like Man Ray and Francis Picabia, progressing through the 20th century into the new millennium. Junk art is a subgenre of found art in that it is made from found objects that are discarded and labeled as "junk".