Akron Art Museum Looks at Everyday Items in a New Way with Objects to Be Destroyed

Akron—In the hands of an artist, almost anything can become art—not just in terms of subject matter, but literally, any object or material A new Akron Art Museum exhibition, Objects to Be Destroyed, features works of art made with everyday items including glass bottles, clocks, rocks, umbrellas and books. The artists in Objects to Be Destroyed incorporate found, man-made products or natural materials into their sculptures, assemblages and photographs. Drawn completely from artworks in the Akron Art Museum collection, Objects to Be Destroyed opens on Saturday, February 29, 2020 alongside Elias Sime: Tightrope.

Curator of Exhibitions Theresa Bembnister said, The practice of creating art from nontraditional and found materials dates to the early 1910s, when artists such as Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp began displaying unexpected objects in exhibitions as a way to draw attention to the items’ physical and aesthetic characteristics. They also encouraged viewers to reconsider the artistic process as an intellectual rather than a purely technique-driven pursuit.”

The exhibition borrows its name from a sculpture created by Man Ray, who cut out the image of an eye from a photograph and attached it to the swinging pendulum of a metronome. The artist transformed a utilitarian device used by musicians to mark time into something new. Disconnected from its usual function, the object became a sculpture, which he titled Object to Be Destroyed. In 1957, after a group of art students interpreted the title literally and attacked the sculpture, Man Ray renamed subsequent versions of the work Indestructible Object. Objects to Be Destroyed features the 1975 edition of Indestructible Object alongside works by Jessica Stockholder, John Newman, Nina Katchadourian, Marcel Duchamp and others.

Bembnister said, “Man Ray and Duchamp’s innovations have had lasting impact, influencing artists working throughout the 20th century and today. The artists of Objects to be Destroyed invite visitors to consider commonplace items in a new and unexpected way. In a sense, the artists destroy the objects they select as materials by preventing them from fulfilling their original use, yet, at the same time, they grant them a new existence as works of art.”

The exhibition opens on February 29 and runs through August 9, 2020.

Objects to be Destroyed is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Ohio Arts Council.

For more information about Objects to Be Destroyed at the Akron Art Museum, visit the museum at akronartmuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media using #AkronArtMuseum and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Accompanying image: Man Ray, Indestructible Object, 1923 (1975 edition), metronome with cardboard, 9 ¼ x 4 ½ x 4 ½ in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum, gift of John Coplans, 1979.10