by Robert Craig Bunch. Texas A&M University Press, October 2016. 204 p. ill. ISBN 9781623494070 (cl.), $50.00.
Reviewed January 2017
For the better half of a decade Robert Craig Bunch traveled across Texas to galleries, museums, artist studios, and homes, building relationships with over sixty living Texas artists to learn about their methods, philosophies, influences, and artworks. The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists presents the interviews Bunch conducted over six years, primarily via e-mail, after meeting with each artist and carefully tailoring questions that would best illuminate their work and practice. The artists featured in the book are a mixture of well-known and understudied figures, making it a vital reference for understanding assemblage art in the twentieth century and contemporary South.
The Art of Found Objects is number seventeen in the Joe and Betty Moore Texas Art Series from Texas A&M University Press. It is well designed, durable, and a pleasure to handle. The book features one color illustration for each interview, generally selected by the artist. The selected pieces pair well with the interviews and, taken as a whole, provide a great visual snapshot of contemporary assemblage art.
Though the selection criteria for artists was based solely on Bunch’s personal preference and skewed towards metropolitan areas, the resulting volume presents a true diversity of voices and perspectives from working artists across Texas. Each entry starts with the artist’s birthplace and current residence and the date that the interview was received. Otherwise, the interviews speak for themselves. The interviews are conversational and approachable without compromising on sophistication and rigor. Artists open up about the personal lives while reflecting on how they came to assemblage art. They discuss their influences, their collaborators, and their aspirations.
There have been other books and exhibitions devoted to presenting a comprehensive view of Texas art and assemblage art, but none like The Art of Found Objects. It is the first to take on both, and the first to focus on presenting the voices of the artists themselves. Academic art librarians will find the extensive reading list and index useful for students. Museum librarians, particularly those situated throughout the Southwest, may find this text provides information on artists in their collections not available elsewhere. Though its contents are of particular interest to Texans, any reader interested in sculpture and assemblage art will find something to enjoy in this book. Above all, The Art of Found Objects is an enjoyable, illuminating, and pleasurable read. As Bunch notes in the introduction, “this book is for the art-curious everywhere.”