Art and plastic: what artists say about plastic

“Plastic is not a material that I like. It is a material I was forced to use because nothing else was available. It has to be said that this material is the only one in existence today that enables large, transportable volumes to be created: light and unbreakable.”
Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002), French painter and sculptress, member of the Parisian group of artists “Nouveaux Réalistes”. First “Nanas” exhibition at the Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris, in September 1965
“What you have to say is more important than the material you use. The material must help to implement the idea. If plastics did not exist, this would not stop me working.”
Armand Pierre Fernandez (1928 – 2005), known as Arman, French / US object artist and co-founder of “Nouveau Réalisme”. Became famous for his “Colères” (destroyed objects, incorporated and preserved in polyester resin)
“Polyurethane – generally called foam plastic – has become the ideal vector for expressing concepts and ideas that correspond to my own attitude towards compression and density. Foam plastic is an interesting and very amusing material that appears to have an instinctive and sexual sense of humour.”
John Angus Chamberlain, born in 1927, US artist (sculpture, film, photography). Representative of “Nouveau Réalisme” and “Abstract Expressionism”. Works with such materials as polyurethane and polymethyl methacrylate
“Plastic is such an obviously modern material that many artists have believed it is enough simply to use plastics in order to update an outdated form of artistic expression and make it interesting. But although it is not capable of replacing a poor idea, this modern feel does exist, particularly when it is expressed technologically.”
Hervé Fischer, born in 1941, French artist, cultural sociologist and philosopher. Established the movement “L’art sociologique” in 1971“ (www.hervefischer.net/cv_de.php)
“In the final analysis, my work is done within the mechanical limits, the chemical laws of the materials that I use. The beauty that I am looking for is the beauty of simple scientific laws and the control of them by human beings.”
Piotr Kowalski (1927 – 2004), Polish sculptor, started to live in Paris in 1953 and worked with plastics (polyester, acrylic resin) from 1957 onwards
“To create something artistic from plastic, I think it is necessary to consider and really understand the main features of this material, its social application areas and its production potential. The manufacturing process became of greater interest to me than the object produced and I was of the opinion that this process had more to say about society and art than any aesthetic design or any work that an artist could create from it.”
Les (Leslie Leopold) Levine, born in 1935, Irish sculptor, emigrated to Canada in 1958 and lives in New York. Works with polyester resin, polymethyl methacrylate and polystyrene
“The aesthetic form of plastic products is generally developed by engineers and designers on the basis of their purpose. To my way of thinking, it is only possible to demonstrate what these materials – which have still not been investigated completely yet and still have to reveal their full potential – are capable of if purpose is ignored. I suspect that there is something profoundly erotic and sacred behind the Proteus-like ability of these materials to adapt to any form of mimicry and their ability to enter spiritual realms via transparency.”
Bussi Buhs, born in 1940, German painter, sculptress and chemist; experiments with plastics from 1961 onwards, establishment and leadership of the plastics workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich from 1971 to 2005, lecturer for plastics technology. Works with such materials as polyester and acrylic (www.ejw-art.com/ausstellungen/buhs.htm)
“I am willing to use any material, any medium to make light directly or indirectly visible. Every material has to be dematerialised, so that the desired effect is achieved. Transparent materials like Plexiglas already have the ability to look immaterial as they are. This is why I used Plexiglas very often in the 60s. I abandoned this material when it was discovered by designers.”
Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf from 1950 to 1953, creative work in the luminokinetic art field since 1956, co-founder of the Düsseldorf group of artists known as “ZERO” in 1957 (www.mack-kunst.com)