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Recycling Art

27 avril 2017

In France, 345 million tons of trashes are created each year. In a society where garbage is constantly growing, inducing atmospheric, soil and water pollution, recycling has become the cornerstone of environmental protection. Art has not escaped this trend. When our wastes become their source material.

The Upcycling

At the very beginning of the 20th century, the Art, which path has been sinuous since its inception, tends to move away from the beaten tracks. Far from the simplest brushes, easels and compliant workshops, simply far from academism, the appearance of new techniques, new means and new “non noble” materials redistribute de cards. The use of these new materials, other than traditional, is nowadays identified as a movement of its own: Recycling Art or Recycl’Art or upcycling. Contrary to their predecessors, artists from this Art are not looking to use reclaimed objects as it is or for its main function. The objective is to demonstrate that wastes, obsolete components from our trashcans, can enter a creative process as a material and become something else. The desire is not to highlight the object but to use it as a unique component. 

From Picasso to the Arte Povera

Pablo Picasso was one of the first to work “rough” material in his artworks. In Le Rêve made in 1908, he drew, without hesitations, on a cardboard on which is glued a label. In 1912, he reclaimed a common rope and used it to frame his waxed canvas Nature morte à la chaise cannée. The simple act of using an object in one’s work was, at the time, a pioneering and revolutionary concept. Much later, in 1942, he will pay tribute to bullfighting with his famous sculpture Tête de taureau, in which he used a handlebar and a bike seat. 

(Le Rêve, 1908)

(Tête de taureau, 1958)

In the sixties, Arman, reknown French-American sculptor from Nice stands out with its Accumulation. He picks up, sorts and reuses found objects by putting them together. He works not only with garbage, which he collects and then puts in plexiglass boxes. A member of the current of the New Realists, his works denounce the overconsumption with paintings made of detritus. Clocks, old suitcases, milk pots or old hammers, everything goes by. Supported by Marcel Duchamp and his ready-made, Arman is one of the forerunners of this recycled art.

Daniel Spoerri is also an eminent member of the New Realists, and, as Arman, he is fully involved in the poetic recycling of the real. One day, he invites his friends, family and colleagues for a lunch. Once the meal is over, he fixes the moment by sticking the remains as they are. Plates, glasses, ashtrays, foods then become the eternal witnesses of a past already gone. He then turns the table upside down and presents it to the wall like a hanging picture. This work, like those of the Arte Povera, an Italian artistic movement born in the 1960s, which is poor only as the raw material used, is a study of our human society through its waste. These are traces of a past time, a sort of archaeological trace, a reflection on the sustainability of our societies and on what will remain.

"Art is for me, above all, a tool for rebuilding the world"

Born in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, Dan Casado is an artist who resides and works today in El Hierro in the Canary Islands. "Seven years ago, I established my home-studio on the volcanic island of El Hierro, one of the seven Canary Islands, selected by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. Making works of art with local garbage and found objects that I recycle in artwork: collages on paper, residues of paintings, dyes and other mediums found at the chance of my excavations... I see recycling as a compromise and a way of life, giving a second life to old materials piled up in dumps, turning rejected objects into new attractive objects, humble pieces of art that are mysterious... Art is for me, above all, a tool for rebuilding the world. Art is my key! »