Lecture 6 Cabinet and Collection

Fold-out engraving from Ferrante Imperato's Dell'Historia Naturale (Naples 1599), the earliest illustration of a natural history cabinet

Fold-out engraving from Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’Historia Naturale (Naples 1599), the earliest illustration of a natural history cabinet

In last lecture, we looked at how everyday objects can be used as an artistic medium, exploring the use of ‘ready-mades’ in modern art beginning with Marcel Duchamp, and in the contemporary period in the work of Jeff Koon. We also looked at how everyday objects also function symbolically in the works of Andy Warhol and how they are monumentalised in Damien Hirst’s works. Specifically, we examined how Sarah Sze and Ian Burns both use objects as the base materials of their works, albeit differently.

In this lecture, we keep our focus on objects, but instead of looking at objects as a class of things, we will examine found or collected objects specifically. We explore objects in collections: the wunderkammer, contemporary museums, and in artworks – how the display and presentation of material objects can shape the audience experience.We focus on the works of Joseph Cornell, Mark Dion, and Fiona Hall in interpreting the wunderkammer concept.

This lecture provides the relevant contexts for the major project of the subject – in addressing the theme of the ‘nature of curiosity’.

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