What is altered art?

It's not easy finding the answer to the apparently simple question 'What is altered art?' on the internet. We should know, because we've tried it…

When we entered this expression into the major search engines we found loads of websites that were obviously trying to sell us something, and quite a number of artists' blogs, but very few sites actually offered any explanation or definition of the term.

So what is altered art?

An obvious interpretation of this phrase would be that it involves altering or combining existing works of art to produce new pieces of artwork, and indeed something like this does happen in the related field of artist trading cards. You will very often see novel re-interpretations of famous works of art, including a multitude of new versions of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, in this miniature form.

However, most people would understand this expression to mean the transformation or 'alteration' of ordinary, everyday objects into decorative pieces using a wide variety of different techniques and materials, for example, rubber stamps, fabric, paper, paint and fibres.

It's a broad term that seems to include many artistic styles or genres, but at its most basic describes a way of recycling, and giving new life to, all sorts of commonplace and functional (or perhaps even useless) items for ornamental purposes.

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