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Broom Collection with Boom

David Ireland1978-1988

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
San Francisco, United States

David Ireland was a key figure associated with Conceptual art in the Bay Area and beyond. From the 1970s until his death in 2009, he produced a highly idiosyncratic body of work concerned with the creation and function of art in everyday life. "Art lets us make observations of things that were always there," he remarked.

In 1975, Ireland purchased a dilapidated 19th-century Victorian residence at 500 Capp Street, in San Francisco's Mission District. His renovation project became a work of art as well as a home and studio, and in 1978 he began making the space available for public viewing. Broom Collection with Boom is composed primarily of relics left at the house by its previous pack-rat owner: 16 brooms that Ireland salvaged and bound together into a ring, carefully arranging them in a continuum from least to most tattered. Noting that "the materials told me what to do," Ireland eventually appended the piece with a boom that has a concrete foot for stability. The work was a centerpiece of the Capp Street house for nearly three decades.

The piece bears a visual, material, and conceptual relationship to Marcel Duchamp's readymades, the sculptures he began making in 1913 using manufactured objects. Duchamp represents a critical touchstone for the advent of idea-based art. Within Ireland's practice the use of found materials is more archaeological; in works such as Broom Collection with Boom the passage of time and the ravages of use are embedded in the visual language of the sculpture.

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