For centuries there have been many artists using recycled materials in their art creation. These upcycled materials are forms of creative medium, they also deliver a message to raise public awareness regarding nature, the material world we live in, as well as a concern about environmental degradation.
One of the famous examples of artists using recycled materials in their art pieces is Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973). He integrated the materials called “rough” into his works. With his painting “Le Reve” from 1908, he drew on cardboard support and pasted a label. Then, in 1912, he recovered a rope to frame his oilcloth “Still Life With Chair Caning”. Later he inserted a handlebar and a bicycle saddle for his sculpture “Cabeza de Toro” in 1958.
Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968) is considered to be the most representative artist in the art of Found Objects. Being a French painter, sculptor, and writer, Duchamp’s work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. His use of everyday objects in his art, which he called “ready-mades,” was particularly influential. The most famous example is Fountain (1917), a standard urinal purchased from a hardware store and displayed on a pedestal, resting on its side. When explaining the purpose of his ready-made sculpture, Duchamp stated they are “everyday objects raised to the dignity of a work of art by the artist’s act of choice.”
Arman Fernandez (1928-2005), a French sculptor from Nice, stood out for his most renowned concepts of Accumulations and Poubelles (French for “trash bins”). He classified, collected, and reused different found objects in his assembles. His works denounce excessive consumption through garbage paintings. It was in the 1960s that he began to be one of the forerunners of this recycled art. A representing work is “Pubelle de Tubes” in 1993
The modern era has seen a huge resurgence in upcycling art, as more and more people are becoming aware of its environmental benefits. A growing number of artists, also known as upcyclers or upcycle artists, are committed to this type of sustainable art. Apart from numerous artists using recycled materials, many organizations are also actively devoted to promoting the practice of upcycling projects and initiatives, from furniture to the jewelry and clothing industry.