Lesson #1: Understanding how "found objects" found a place in art


Why did collage emerge in the early 20th century?
Students will be able to:
Examine visual images for cultural and historical clues.
Identify found materials that reflect contemporary culture
Make inferences from observations
Make a sketch of a section of a master still-life collage.
Students will understand that:
New technologies and mass production inspired early 20th century artists to use found materials in their work.
Found materials and mass produced papers can be effectively used to create art.
Visual images provide cultural and historical clues.
Copying a master artwork causes you to more carefully observe what an artist has done.

9x12 drawing paper, pencils, erasers, four strips of paper for each student to be used as a viewfinder

Teachers are encouraged to contact Materials for the Arts - www.mfta.org - for free collage materials for classroom use.

  • Reproductions of collages by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris that contain found materials (such as PIcasso's Still Life with Violin and Fruit; Still-Life with Violin and Sheet Music; Guitar, Sheet Music and Wine Glass; Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar;  Braque's Still Life with Purple Plums;  Still Life with Grapes and Clarinet;  Gris' Breakfast)
  • Eugene Atget photographs of early 20th century Paris (such as Boulevard Sant-Denis, 1926; Boulevard De Bonne-Nouvelle, 1926;  Rue des Ursins, 1923) showing automobiles, electric lights, posters and other indicators of new technologies

Distribute reproductions of collages by Juan Gris,  Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque that contain found objects.  Record responses on the chalkboard to these prompts:

  • In what ways do these still-lifes differ from a photograph of a still-life?
  • What types of materials do you see?
  • What is a collage?
  • Why do you think collage first emerged in the early 20th century?

Display images of early 20th c. Paris.  Ask students to carefully examine them.

  • What new technologies were available to people at this time? 

Discuss modern day coveniences such as automobiles, electric lights, mass media and dissemination of advertisements, aviation, radio, etc. Discuss how mass production and the invention of the conveyer belt allowed for items such as bottles to be mass reproduced.

We will be creating a collage from a still-life.  Our still-life will be composed of materials that represent the technology of the 21st century.


In order for you to better understand how these master artists constructed their collages, you will be selecting one section of their work to sketch and analyze.  Be sure to include the details and make note of the found materials the artist used.

Demonstrate how to use four strips of paper to select one section of a collage and make a quick sketch on 9x12 paper.

Students will use pencils and erasers to make a sketch of one section of the master collage.

  • What interesting details did you notice when you were sketching?
  • What kinds of mass produced papers and found materials might we include in collages that reflect our lives in 21st century New York City?

Start collecting papers and small found objects that reflect your life in 21st century NYC:  newspapers, magazines, bar codes, labels, computer chips, unusual papers, plastic, etc.



Art Making:  copying a sketch of a master collage

Literacy:  looking at and discussing art; developing visual arts vocabulary; interpreting and analyzing

Making Connections: Observing and interpreting the world; recognizing the historical and societal 

                               significance of collage

Careers and Life-Long Learning - awareness of careers in visual arts