Expect the Unexpected: Unusual Materials in Contemporary Craft

Racine Art Museum

Oct. 21, 2023 - Jul. 3, 2021

441 Main Steet
Racine, 53403


Expect the Unexpected features artworks drawn from RAM’s collection that incorporate unusual, surprising, or challenging materials. Rather than shying away from the potential care challenges they might entail, RAM embraces these objects as reflections of the inventiveness and experimentation that characterizes much contemporary art.

Pablo Picasso’s “Still Life with Chair Caning”—an oval-shaped painting trimmed with a piece of rope as a frame—is often acknowledged as one of the first assemblage pieces as it incorporated a found object as part of the composition. Picasso’s work is also an early modern illustration of the idea that artists sometimes willingly utilize and experiment with materials that were produced for purposes other than art-making.

The advent of industrialization in modern Western societies encouraged the production of more goods and, ultimately, more excess and waste. This reality—as well as the idea that artists were able to focus more on the investigations of personal interests rather than commissions—led to endless new possibilities for using unexpected materials in their creative endeavors.

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