Materials and meaning

Unexpected Materials

CHAPTER 3: Materials and meaning

In many cases, artists select their materials based on a specific significance they carry. Tea bags (like those in Tania Bruguera’s Poetic Justice) call to mind not only the drink itself, but also the very fraught history of its trade across the British Empire; water pipes (as in Frank Moore’s Bubble Bath) conjure thoughts of circulation, the transmission of disease, and even the concept of “spouting” ignorance. Some artists take a more personal tack, incorporating items from their own lives. Feliciano Centurión’s hand-embroidered pillow is an apt example, as it serves as a memento from time the artist spent in the hospital while suffering complications from HIV.

Image credit:
Antonio Berni
Retrato de Ramona [Portrait of Ramona], 1963 (detail)
Collage of collagraph prints
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Gift of the Museum of Modern Art, 1982

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