bricolage

noun
bri·co·lage | \ ˌbrē-kō-ˈläzh , ˌbri- \

Definition of bricolage 

: construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand also : something constructed in this way

Keep scrolling for more

bricolage Has French Roots

According to French social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the artist "shapes the beautiful and useful out of the dump heap of human life." Lévi-Strauss compared this artistic process to the work of a handyman who solves technical or mechanical problems with whatever materials are available. He referred to that process of making do as bricolage, a term derived from the French verb bricoler (meaning "to putter about") and related to bricoleur, the French name for a jack-of-all-trades. Bricolage made its way from French to English during the 1960s, and it is now used for everything from the creative uses of leftovers ("culinary bricolage") to the cobbling together of disparate computer parts ("technical bricolage").

Examples of bricolage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Kinships with craftwork, toys, folk or outsider art, and bricolage inevitably suggest themselves, only to be plowed under by the rigor of an aesthetic as sophisticated as that of an Alexander Calder or a Joseph Cornell. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Utopian Vision of Bodys Isek Kingelez," 4 June 2017 The performance, composed in thematic layers, is itself a kind of bricolage. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the farmhouse next door, and unexpected connections in between," 16 Apr. 2018 Their garments are a hodgepodge of deadstock textiles and mismatched notions that evoke Mike Kelley's playful bricolage artworks and Rodarte’s artisanally holy knitwear. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Fashion Collective Women's History Museum Presents Their Oeuvre in A Gallery Show You Can Shop," 31 Jan. 2018 But her art retained a visceral energy and an underlying gruesomeness, and in the sixties her bricolage works again incorporated direct references to the body, or body parts. The New Yorker, "Carol Rama: Antibodies," 29 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bricolage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bricolage

1960, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bricolage

French, from bricoler to putter about

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bricolage

Listen to Our Podcast about bricolage

Dictionary Entries near bricolage

brickwork

bricky

brickyard

bricolage

bricole

bricoleur

brid

Statistics for bricolage

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bricolage

The first known use of bricolage was in 1960

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on bricolage

See words that rhyme with bricolage

Comments on bricolage

What made you want to look up bricolage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!