Skip to content


OED Definition
Pronunciation: /ˈlɛftəʊvə/
Noun: something, especially food, remaining after the rest has been used
Adjective [attributive]: remaining; surplus

Origin: left + over: Middle English leven, Old English lǣfan  (from base of lāf  remainder; Old High German leiban  (bleiben to remain)

“I always like to work with leftovers, doing the leftover things. Things that were discarded, that everybody knew were no good. I always thought it had the potential to be funny. It was like recycling work. I always thought there was a lot of humor in leftovers.” Andy Warhol – The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), 1975, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York.

“It might be said that the engineer questions the universe, while the ‘bricoleur’ addresses himself to a collection of oddments left over from human endeavours, that is, only a sub-set of the culture.” Claude Lévi-Strauss – The Savage Mind (1966)

“A leftover is a piece of something that has been remaindered – a part of something that has become detached and is now surplus to requirements or redundant. It is the flipside to the new commodity (the box for the shoes, but no shoes). Leftovers have history. The rise of the commodity has always gone hand in hand in the modernist imagination with the ragpickers picking over the debris of the city. As a cornucopia of the obsolete, the flea markets of Paris had fuelled the dreams of the Surrealists. The discarded could be generative and celebrated. Robert Morris’s roomful of detritus could hail antiform and process art”. (p.224). “Leftovers come to stand not for what once has been but what will be. They suggest forever fluctuating possibilities […] Focussing attention on the leftover puts into question the value of what we choose to keep.” (p.228).  “Leftovers are part objects in time rather than in space. Leftovers suggest fractured rather than continuous time.” (p.231). Briony Fer – Part Object Part Sculpture: The Scatter: Objects as Leftovers (2005). Pennsylvania State University Press.

“Some pieces are more like finished sculptures, like the socks or the heart, and some of them are like models, like the car, the small DS or the little Yielding Stone which is the first one I ever made. Then some of them are totally ready-made like the box of soap or the shoebox. Some of them are failed sculptures, models that didn’t work out but have interesting possibilities for the future, like nice leftovers.” – Gabriel Orozco interviewed by Benjamin Buchloch in the “Clinton is Innocent” exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1998, p.127.

Gabriel Orozco – Working Tables (2000-05) Unfired clay, straw, egg container, bottle caps, wiremesh screen, string, stones, shells, plaster, bark, polystyrene foam, painted wood elements, pizza dough, and other materials

Damien Hirst – Let’s Eat Outdoors Today (1990-91) Glass, steel, silicone rubber, cow’s head, flies, maggots, sugar, water, Insect-O-Cutor, table and chairs, tableware, condiments and food, 221 x 411.5 x 214.6cm

Breuk Iversen – Offal (2003) leftovers collected from the galleries in Williamsburg, New York.

David Shapiro – Consumed (2003) 2 years of boxes, bags, bottles and cans

Chris Gittner – Street Food (2013)

Tom Friedman – Untitled (Eraser Shavings), 1990

Sophie Calle – The Hotel, Room 47 (1981), 2 works on paper, photographs and ink, 2140 x 1420 mm

Daniel Spoerri – Kichka’s Breakfast I (1960) Wood chair hung on wall with board across seat, coffeepot, tumbler, china, eggcups, eggshells, cigarette butts, spoons, tin cans, and other materials, 36.6 x 69.5 x 65.4 cm

Klaus Pichler - One Third (Strawberries)

Klaus Pichler – One Third (Strawberries) (2011). Photography, Photography, ed. 5+II/5+II 60×75, 90x105cm.

Anya Gallaccio – Because I Could Not Stop (2000) Bronze cast from an apple tree, apples, rope.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: