Themes/The everyday: Power of the ordinary

Banal, obvious, common, ordinary. These aren’t the words you would normally associate with art.

Some artists make big works about giant themes, where others prefer to make work about their day-to-day environment, with materials readily at hand.

Here’s our first four artists who use everyday materials to get you inspired:

Tom Friedman

Credit: Tom Friedman ‘Untitled’ (1990). Bubble Gum. 5 Inches in Diameter © Tom Friedman. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Over the last 20 years Tom Friedman has built up a reputation for making art from the everyday. Sugar cubes, chewing gum, cereal boxes, toothpicks and polystyrene are some of his prefered materials. Our favourite work consists of a massive ball of bubble gum. Approximately fifteen hundred pieces of chewed bubble gum were moulded into a sphere. It is displayed wedged in a corner at head height and hangs by its own stickiness! How long do you think it took him to chew all that gum?

Explore Tom Friedman’s work via the Stephen Friedman Gallery.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles

Credit: Mierle Laderman Ukeles (1973-1974) ‘Art Interviews’ at A.I.R Gallery, Soho, New York Part of Maintenance Art Activity series. Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles was a feminist artist who made art from cleaning. Why did she do this? She even made a manifesto, where she laid out the rules for what she called ‘maintenance art’. To quote the artist “I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother. (Random order).

Karla Black

Credit: Karla Black, Installation View, Palazzo Pisani, 2011. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph Gautier Deblonde. 

Karla Black’s materials include soap, talcum powder, cellophane, make-up, sugar paper and sellotape. Her sprawling installations take advantage of Lush products so much that they sponsored her presentation at the Venice Biennial in 2011. Later that year she was nominated for the Turner Prize here in the UK.

Watch the ‘Tate Shots: Turner Prize 2011, Karla Black’ video.

Tonico Lemos Auad

Credit: Tonico Lemos Auad (2009) ‘Fox (Moonbeam Carpet)’, C print Framed size: 62.5 x 86 x 4cm (24 5/8 x 33 7/8 x 1 1/2in) Copyright: Tonico Lemos Auad Courtesy: Tonico Lemos Auad and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Tonico Lemos Auad is a Brazilian artist who originally studied architecture. He first rose to prominence by making animal sculptures from carpet fluff! They were so fragile that putting your foot down in the wrong place threatened to destroy them forever – the only remaining evidence of these sculptures now is the photographic documentation.

Explore more of Tonico Lemos Auad’s work via the Stephen Friedman Gallery

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