CFP: Modern(ist) objects? The objet trouvé in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – AAH 2019 Session


Anne Vallayer-Coster, Still-Life with Tuft of Marine Plants, Shells and Corals, 1769.

I’m hugely excited to be working with Molly Duggins (National Art School, Sydney), on a panel for next year’s Association for Art History conference, which will be held in Brighton. The session hopes to think about how the found object – traditionally discussed in relation to Modernist cultural practices – might be a useful means of considering eighteenth- and nineteenth-century material culture. The CFP for the session is below, and abstracts are due Monday 5 November.

Modern(ist) objects? The objet trouvé in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

 Molly Duggins, National Art School, Sydney

Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh

 Marcel Duchamp’s series of ‘readymades’, particularly the infamous Fountain of 1917, are often viewed as heralding a watershed moment in the history of art. Produced between 1913 and 1921, Duchamp utilised found and appropriated objects, often drawn from everyday life, to redefine and question the very nature of art. Yet the art historical emphasis on the revolutionary nature of Duchamp’s practice overlooks the productive possibilities offered by a longer and more fluid notion of the found object, or objet trouvé. Indeed, found objects have a long and venerable history stretching back well before the advent of Modernism, being used in the production of an array of cultural practices throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Transformed by aesthetic and material processes such as display, translation, and adaptation, both everyday and extraordinary found objects proliferate in collections, collages, still lives, manuscripts, and assemblages made throughout this period. This session accordingly seeks to examine the expanded field of the found object and the readymade by exploring these earlier manifestations. We invite proposals for papers on topics including, but not limited to:

  • souvenirs
  • acts of acquisition
  • the collection
  • historiographies of the found object
  • mass production and/or commodification
  • fragments, scraps, excerpts, and pieces
  • appropriation
  • dialogues of production and consumption
  • circulation and exchange of found objects

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to and


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