Cup of fur
Q. How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Cup of fur
I was thinking about my last posting and the visual pun of an everyday object being transferred into another material. It's a compelling (though perhaps obvious) motif and one I have done myself in the past (see the cast iron & cocobola wood sculpture to the right).
What's the earliest work-of-art that you can think of that takes this approach? Sculptures done in traditional materials (bronze, ceramic, wood, stone) don't really count unless the sculpture is really playing against the material (i.e., a hatchet head out of wood).
The earliest example I can think of is Meret Oppenheim's Object (Le Déjenuere en fourrure) from 1936 (aka cup of fur). The commentary I have (briefly) read about the piece has its intention as absurdist, intending to provoke disgust & rejection, and having sexual connotations. I've always seen it as a social commentary... a cup is an exceedingly utilitarian object that can be made into a luxury item in porcelain. Oppenheim has taken the luxury further by covering the tea cup in fur, with the result being an unusable utensil (i.e., an object). What I take from Object is a statement about waste and conspicuous consumption.
Anyway, I'm sure that are earlier works that use this kind of material transposition. Let me know if you can think of one! I'm wondering if we can come up with a sculpture from before Modernism--did the use of non-traditional materials and the challenging of convention simply not exist before Modernism?