All Articles
All Articles

Raw + Material = Art

Refashioning scrap material into uniquely meaningful works of art

by Nicholas Marino
on 03 May 2012
raw-material-art-2.jpg raw-material-art-11.jpg

Accompanying a growing awareness of the wastefulness underlying the modern global economy, a new approach to art has flourished in recent years, one dealing with the repurposing and utilization of materials discarded or viewed as useless. Written by street art commentator Tristan Manco, the new book "Raw + Material = Art" delves into these techniques and philosophies by exploring the works of 38 artists using low-tech, low-cost media and methods. The selected artists provoke thought on both subject and medium, and continue to push what's possible by working at "the raw edge of contemporary art."


Spanning old skateboard decks to plastic children's toys to teabags, the works highlighted in "Raw + Material = Art" have a dual purpose. In an age of digital production and computer-engineered perfection, they signify a back-to-basics approach, bringing a new respect to the cultivation of a craft. Through their choice of materials, artists also convey a message of awareness of our environment and the resources we use or abuse within it. Although often indebted to past artists, notably Marcel Duchamp, the raw art displayed in Manco's book is a response to veritably modern phenomena.


"We take it for granted these days that art can be made from any substance or is not surprising in itself if an artist presents us with a work made from unusual materials" writes Manco in his introduction. "However, even if we anticipate spectacle, we can still be struck by such a work." The works Manco focuses on transcend mere gimmickry, working within unorthodox media without being tied down by them.

The book's layout is fairly straightforward. Listing the artists alphabetically, Manco provides an insightful background for each alongside a generous allocation of large, color photographs. Locations range from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, giving a comprehensive portrait of the fittingly global expanse of a scene that deals with the detritus of globalization and mass production.

raw-materials-art-12.jpg raw-material-art-7.jpg

Artists include AJ Fosik, who constructs technicolor creatures out of hundreds of individually shaped pieces of plywood, Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, who, often working with scrap materials such as shrink foil, salvaged wood, or flip-flops, erects large animal sculptures in public areas, and Brooklyn-based Mia Pearlman, who carves intricate "cloudscapes" out of sheets of paper.


Several artists previously featured on Cool Hunting also make an appearance in the book, including Gabriel Dawe, who creates prismatic structures out of miles of colorful thread, Ron van der Ende, whose modern bas-relief work is done in recycled wood, and Brian Dettmer, who carves intricate sculptures by carefully peeling away layers of the pages of books.


"Raw + Material = Art" is available for purchase on Amazon and from publishers Thames & Hudson.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology
Loading More...