objet trouvé \AWB-zhay-troo-VAY\ noun
: a natural or discarded object found by chance and held to have aesthetic value
The museum's latest show, which features objets trouvés, is a dramatic change from last year's exhibition of medieval religious art.
"Objet trouvé" comes from French, where it literally means "found object." The term entered English during the early 20th century, a time when many artists challenged traditional ideas about the nature of true art. Surrealists and other artists, for instance, held that any object could be a work of art if a person recognized its aesthetic merit. "Objet trouvé" can refer to naturally formed objects whose beauty is the result of natural forces as well as to man-made artifacts (such as bathtubs, wrecked cars, or scrap metal) that were not originally created as art but are displayed as such.