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objet de désir
© SB

Below you will find applications to the art theory of Stefan Beyst

Ever more examples will be added until there is a complete overview of the most important forms of mimetic objects.

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Arman Beuys Ernst
Jungen Oppenheim


PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

From Picasso stems the paradigmatic example of a mimetic object: the bull's head from 1943. Through their combination, two real objects - the handlebars and the saddle of a bicycle - become the medium for the appearance of another object: a bull's head.

In other works, Picasso integrates real objects in three-dimensional imitations. The thereby become the medium of the appearance of a part of the imitated object. Already in the time of Cubism, Picasso integrated real newspapers in his collages and a real absinth spoon in his 'absinth glass'. The paradigmatic example here are the vases that are transformed into the udders of a goat (1950).

MAX ERNST (1891-1976)

From the twenties onward, Max Ernst integrates real objects in two-dimensional painting in which they are integrated as mimetic objects (Vogel im Käfig, 1963). He also integrates real objects in sculptures from the fifties onward, although they are often executed in bronze afterwards. Good examples are Capricorn (1947) and 'Microbe vu à travers un tempérament' (1964).


Méret Oppenheim is renown for her 'Déjeuner en fourrure', that belongs to the surrealistic design. Totally different is 'Ma gouvernante' (1936). Through their being displayed on a dish and through the addition of paper decorations on the high heels, a pair of shoes is transformed into a bondaged body that takes the appearance of genitals: un 'objet de désirs' of diverse perverse impulses. This is genuine three-dimensional mimesis ('sculpture').

ARMAN (1928)

Arman is renown from his accumulations, which are not imitations, but just displayed reality ('object exposé"). Only in accumulations like 'Les Chromosomes' (1963) does the title make us read the forks as animated beings, which are moving like sperm. The forks are thus transformed into something else as what they are. We are dealing here, hence, with - not all too convincing - mimesis.

BEUYS (1921-1986)

Many objects and actions of Beuys are non-verbal statements, which are dealt with in 'Art or statement'.

Other installations or assemblages of Beuys are genuine imitations. That is the case when real objects are combined in a way that could not occur in the real world and hence conjure up an imag
inary world. A good example is 'Das Rudel' (1969), that can be regarded as a kind of theatre with real objects rather than with actors.


The Canadian artist Brian Jungen became famous with his

Prototypes of New Understanding

(1998-2003), a series of masks assembled from parts of Nike shoes. He also uses other elements, such as plastic chairs. Although Brian Jungen refers to Duchamp and Warhol, his creations are not non-verbal statements, but genuine mimesis, rather in the vein of Picasso's Bull's Head.

© Stefan Beyst

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