By Jena Connolly | 18 January, 2016

In this blog we explore how artists are at the frontier of innovation as early adopters of technological advancement, or in their own creation of innovations later adopted by wider society. We continue on from Part I which explored Renaissance and 19th Century artistic innovation, and look forward into the 20th Century and to today.


Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) Found Objects

Found Objects is the term for artworks constituted by the assembly of objects discovered by the artist and exhibited without a large level of intervention upon their material state.   Perhaps the most influential and important Found Object piece was Duchamp’s Fountain (1917). Although Duchamp preferred to use the title ‘Readymades’ for his Found Object works. Although the movement to Found Objects as Art is too large to really be considered one person’s creation, Marcel Duchamp’s contribution to the wider industry’s acceptance of the medium was incredibly important.

Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) The Geodisc Dome:

Innovative Architect and Designer R. Buckminster wanted to revolutionize housing and construction. He created the Geodisc Dome housing structure which used its unique spherical design to distribute stress through the frame and thus enclose more space by removing intrusive supporting columns. This design was patented in  1954 and they were used across multiple industries perhaps most significantly by the US Military radar stations. He recognised the aesthetically pleasing nature of the geometric shapes he used and exhibited his patented designs as screenprints. His designs are copied and manipulated by various artists and collective projects to this day.


Yves Klein (1928-1962) International Klein Blue

In 1957 artist Yves Klein registered the distinctive shade of ultramarine he worked solely with, as a trademark ‘International Klein Blue’ (IKB). Klein conceived that this particular colour had significant spatial power and spiritual significance. Klein was the first artist to trademark a colour of his creation. In many ways IKB is a significant case where the line between artistic individuality and conventional patentable invention blurs.


Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967-) Little Sun Lamp

Olafur Eliasson designed the high-quality solar-powered LED lamp ‘Little Sun’ with engineer Frederik Ottesen and launched a global project with it in 2012 at Tate. The aim of the project is to provide a clean, renewable  source of lighting  worldwide. The sale of Little Sun lamps in global regions with a steady supply of electricity means one can be sold at a lower price in a community where such resources are lesser available.


The arts have sped up a number of innovations we now take for granted and use across a range of disciplines.  If you’re trying to create a tricky project maybe you should take a leaf out of these artists handbooks and get innovating yourself. Check out Part 1 if you missed it previously.


Banner Image Source: Stocksnap Free Stock Images, Image by: Noe Araujo

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