Upcycling is an exhibition of works by Arman, César, Gérard Deschamps, Raymond Hains, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and Jacques Villeglé. These artists were among the original signers of the “Constitutive Declaration of New Realism,” a manifesto written by the critic Pierre Restany, who, along with Yves Klein, coined the name. The manifesto was signed in Klein’s Paris studio on October 27th, 1960. The group shared neither a coherent style, nor a common strategy of art making; however, many of them found solidarity in the incorporation of consumer objects and nontraditional media into their work. Discord within the group was frequent, however, and the members became estranged just ten years later.
Reality for these artists constituted a war-ridden society and the streets of Paris were obscured with partisan propaganda, to which the public reacted against by tearing and spray painting over them.
The appropriation of reality was thus a logical segue from the Duchampian “Readymade” for the Nouveaux Réalistes, whose works participated in the “fascinating adventure of the Real perceived as it is” through the “ripping of a poster, the allure of an object, a piece of household waste, or a bit of a scrap from a show… a burst of mechanical activity or the spreading of awareness beyond the logical limits of perception.” And while the term “upcycling” was not in use at the time, these artists would most certainly have embraced it.
May / 12 / 2023
July / 29 / 2023