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Saturday, March 14, 2009

So what is Altered Art? Hmm

This form of creative expression is not new, and actually has a history stretching back over many centuries. The story so far…

The practice of altering existing works of art goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, when the monks would conserve their precious stocks of parchment by reusing old manuscripts, often incompletely obscuring what was there before.

A few centuries later we often find well-known artists like Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) painting over their earlier and less important works, again sometimes leaving portions of the original image still visible.
With the Victorian era came a passion for making scrapbooks, into which were pasted newspaper and magazine cuttings, calling cards, greetings cards and other ephemera, but it wasn't until the early years of the twentieth century that the form of creative expression that we now know as altered art really began to develop.

The best-known artists working in these early years and using what we now think of as altered art techniques included Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948). In the 1960s some other well-known names were Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987), but over the past century there have been many other less famous artists working in this genre.
Probably the best-known name in this field today is that of Tim Holtz, who has done much to popularise this form of creative expression.

So what is altered art?

Well it involves altering or combining existing works of art to produce new pieces of artwork.

What's the difference between altered art and mixed-media art?

These two forms of creative expression are very similar, and indeed one is a particular example of the other. When you see the term mixed-media art, however, it simply means that the piece has been created from a variety of different materials, unlike, for instance, a watercolour or an oil painting. There isn't necessarily any suggestion that an existing object or work of art has been altered in some way to produce the new piece of artwork.

Although this isn't strictly implied by its definition, much of what many people think of as altered art seems to have a certain look, a certain style, what might be described in architectural terms as a 'vernacular', its own language if you like. This often old and faded look could be variously described as vintage, antique, worn or distressed, and we'll be looking at ways in which you can achieve this effect.

When you see a piece of artwork described as 'altered' that doesn't really seem to fit the definition, it probably means that it has that old, worn and distressed look that we often associate with this particular genre.

So what can I alter?

Well you can really use whatever you like. The possibilities are endless. Just experiment. Turn those useless bits and pieces around your house that you no longer have a use for. Turn them into masterpeices?

Although you can alter anything you like, Here are some commonly found objects that you might like to try:

Bamboo tiles
CDs and DVDs
CD cases
Cigar boxes
Glass bottles
Tin lids
Jigsaw pieces
Luggage labels (shipping tags)
Microscope slides
Photographs and postcards
Photo frames
Playing cards
Silk flowers
Slide mounts
You may well find that you have some of this stuff around your house.
Look in $2.00 shops or even 2nd hand and/or charity shops for things like old books and children's board books, jigsaws and dominoes – you may be lucky! You may also be able to find some of these items at art or craft retailers.

See off the page (altered art) products in store here - like this cute travel luggage.

ATC cards not made by me and taken from ttp://www.cedarseed.com/air/atc.html