Art Made With Recycled Materials


Recycling has become quite trendy over the years, with most areas offering public pickup of cardboard, cans, plastic and glass for recycling. This keeps many items from ending up in the local dump. Many modern artists are finding new and interesting ways to incorporate someone else's trash into their artistic treasure.


  • Artwork using recycled materials started as early as the 1900s with Marcel Duchamp's famous urinal turned art titled "Fountain." The movement continued into the '40s with modern artists finding new and unique ways to interest viewers. Louise Nevelson created large box structures of a single color, often including small nick-knacks that were reinvented into art.


  • According to the Oakland Museum of California, crafty people and artists have been using recycled materials to create art for many years. While creating their "Hello Again" exhibit during the late 1990s, they discovered a woven purse made by Laotian hill people using telephone wire used for covert operations during the Vietnam War. Art using recycled materials causes the viewer to take a new look at everyday items and to also look at art in different ways.

The Green Movement

  • Through the years, artists have begun turning recycled art into a movement of sorts, to correlate with the "green" movement taking place in popular culture. Artists started finding ways to show their concern for the environment within their art and encourage others to reuse, reduce and recycle. Bernard Pras, a French artist, piles up unwanted trash to create a one-time-only sculpture to photograph.

A New Spin on Recycling

  • Artists are popping up with amazing ways to turn trash into artworks. Sarah-Jane van der Westhuizen turns old car parts into creative sculptures that are showcased around Europe in outdoor installations. David Mach creates larger than life sculptures mostly using used coat hangers, along with other recycled materials. Many of his installations can be found in and around London.


  • With his Garbage Flowers campaign, artist Eric Lewis began creating unique flowers out of trash in 2004. His flowers incorporate plastic bottles, scrap metal and other found items to encourage others to find the beauty in the trash around them. Museums and art teachers offer classes and lessons to young artists on how to turn trash into special sculptures and find ways to re-use materials instead of throwing them away.

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  • Photo Credit recycled paper image by Ivan ivashin from
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