(Fr.: ‘found object’).
An object found by an artist and displayed with no, or minimal, alteration as (or as an element in) a work of art. It may be a natural object, such as a pebble, a shell, or a curiously contorted branch, or a man-made object such as a piece of pottery or old piece of ironwork or machinery. The essence of the matter is that the finder-artist recognizes such a chance find as an ‘aesthetic object’ and displays it for appreciation by others as he would a work of art. The practice began with the Dadaists (especially Marcel Duchamp) and was particularly cultivated by the Surrealists. Subsequently, found material has been much used in assemblage. See also ready-made.