Can we use “the ordinary”? Soup cans, crayons, shadows, and what makes them fascinating.

When something insignificant becomes extraordinarily beautiful.

Mona Lisa, The Starry Night, The Water Lily Pond, American Gothic, The Great Wave off Kanagawa are some of the well known pieces of art painted by Van Gogh, Monet, Wood and Hokusai, respectively. Many of you have most likely seen an online or an in-person version of the art listed above. However, there are other art pieces inspired, drawn, and built from different objects. Below are some artists that have proved that art can go beyond just the pencil and brush.

Andy Warhol was a leading artist in the Pop Movement in the 1960s. At the age of 14, Warhol suffered the loss of his father. Since his father had seen Warhol’s artistic potential, he asked in his will that his life savings go toward his son’s college education. Warhol would later enroll into Carnegie Mellon University to study pictorial design and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. 

When Warhol started to pay more attention to painting in the late 1950s, he began the concept of pop art that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. His most famous pop art piece is “Campbell’s Soup Cans”. Throughout his other famous pop art pieces you can catch Coca-cola bottles, vacuums, and even hamburgers.

Below is Warhol’s famous “Campbell’s Soup Cans” piece:

There are also other known artists besides Andy Warhol who have likewise created memorable pieces of artwork using daily objects. Carving figurines and designs into wood or metal has always been difficult but there are artists like Salavat Fidai who have gone above and beyond by carving tiny figures from pencil lead. Salavat Fidai gained recognition from his series of Game of Thrones miniature sculptures. As pencil lead is incredibly delicate, there is an immense amount of precision needed in order to create these tiny, beautiful sculptures. 

Below is some of Fidai’s Game of Thrones pencil figurines:

Rising TikTok star, Tiny (@/tinymakesthings), has posted short videos on her social media platforms of her creating different clay charms to attach onto a mechanical keyboard. Tiny practiced clay sculpting and soon quit her job as an engineer to lead a career dedicated to making keycaps. From sushi, to waffles, and even tiny characters, her creativity and personality can be seen from the different figures she makes.

Below are some of Tiny’s keyboard caps:

Another artist who has experimented with creative techniques is Kumi Yamashita, a Japanese artist. Yamashita has always been interested in shadows and light. Yamashita’s work consists of different silhouettes of people, but what stands out most is how these silhouettes are made. Her silhouettes are made from items such as wood blocks, fabrics, and even plates with a carefully angled light to transform them into a work of art. In an interview with Designboom magazine, Yamashita explained that she believes “shadows came to symbolize another dimension of life, perhaps even more real than its holder.” 

Below is one of Yamashita’s shadow pieces, City View:

Although crayons are mainly used for others to fill in some blanks on a coloring page, artist Christian Faur thought differently. Using different colored crayons, Faur is able to create incredible portraits only by placing crayons throughout the canvas in order to create an image. Two difficulties that Faur faces is having a strong enough composition so that his art can stand on his own as well as knowing how his work will be displayed.

Below is one of Faur’s pieces, Pinterest Pygmalion, made completely out of solid crayons:

Lastly, an artist who took the term of using daily objects quite literally is Michael Mapes. Mapes has made collages with various objects including beads, stones, glass and more. Mapes has expressed the difficulties due to the amount of pieces and always tries to approach them as if he were painting the work.

Below is a piece called Dutch Specimen MT1639 that is made with 5000 individual pieces:

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