Impressionist artwork was once seen by some to be rough and incomplete. “A preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more finished than this seascape,” scoffed one critic of Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, which was being exhibited in a salon alongside works by Renoir, Degas, and Cézanne. Close up, the pieces were thick smudges on a canvas. Only when stepping back could viewers perceive the beauty of the scene itself created from the rich layers of paint.
Modern artist Tom Deininger takes impressionist perception to a whole new level with his re-creation of Monet’s 1899 masterpiece Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, which is composed entirely of found objects like plastic forks, phone cords, bottle caps, markers, lighters, combs, and children’s toys. “When you can take something out of context and put it together with a variety of other things,” Deininger says, “you can coax a new definition out of it and maybe a new purpose”—in this case, natural landscapes recreated in junk, writes 1-800-Recycling.com. Deininger creates his assemblages on a grand scale, as large as 12 by 20 feet, making them a lovely scene from far away and a hodgepodge of junk up close. “I think that all art, even reality, is about perception,” says Deininger, calling to mind the Impressionists to whom his art pays strange and beautiful homage. “And so you’ve got one thing up close and it coalesces into something else all together from a distance.”
Images by Tom Deininger, collection of Billi and Bobby Gosh, used with permission