Monday, 15 April 2013

Collages through the ages

Pablo Picasso 'Glass and Bottle of Suze' 1912

Pronunciation: \kə-ˈläzh, kȯ-, kō-\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, literally, gluing, from coller to glue, from colle glue, from Vulgar Latin *colla,kolla from Greek
Date: 1919

1 a : an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface b : a creative work that resembles such a composition in incorporating various materials or elements
2 : the art of making collages

Raoul Hausman 'The Art Critic' 1919-1920

A thoroughly modern medium, collage expressed the characteristics of the 20th Century - immediacy, the mass media and capitalism - through creative process and concept. Collage, coming from the French term coller, meaning glue, paste or stick, is the construction of pictures through the pasting of torn images.

John Heartfield 'Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Sprouts Junk' 1932

According to the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction, collage as an artform is much more than just simply making pictures. "It's a mode of perception, a multi-dimensional language with aesthetic implications that spans the histories of art, architecture, literature and music."

Kurt Schwitters 'The Proposal' 1942

Collage first emerged as a fine art medium in the form of papier colles, or pasted papers, from Cubists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Since, it has been an important medium throughout Modern art, showing up in Italian Futurism, Constructivism, Dada, Surrealism, Pop Art and Fluxus. Artists who worked in the collage medium included Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell; who asserted that art could be made from anything. Abtract Expressionsist artists, such as Robert Motherwell, were attracted to the medium to expand their practice in abstract painting (IMCSC 2005).

David Hockney 'Pearblossom Hwy, 11th-18th April, 1986, #2' 1986

Contemporary artists use collage, and the closely related assemblage and mixed media, to construct a visual representation of their world and experiences, by using found objects and objects closely bound to the everyday; which viewers make an immediate identification to.

Peter Lewis 'The Birth of the Information Age' no date

Peter Lewis 'Tiki Touring' no date

As a medium, collage blurs the boundaries or bridges the dichotomy between high and low art or pop art; text and image; figuration and abstraction; past and present; and two and three dimensions (ibid). According to media theorist Marshall McLuhan. collage effectively breaks down perspectivalism, while at the same time emphasises the disparity of images or objects it juxtaposes.

Martin Smith 'Teevee #13' 1999

A collage is not just a bunch of random things pasted together. It is important to consider conventional design elements and principles such as composition, line, shape, colour, form, texture, etc; and what the images and objects in the collage represent and the meaning they add to the work. So before cutting and pasting, have a clear understanding of the message you want to send to your audience and the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the work.

Traditional collage and practice and digital collage practice share the same characteristics, both immediate and seemingly simple, yet potentially tedious and complex.

Natsuki Kimura 'Gone' 2000

Further Reading:
Greenberg, Clement. "Collage (The Pasted Paper Revolution)." Art News 57.5 (September 1958): 46-49, ff.
Rosenberg, Harold. "Collage: Philosophy of Put-Togethers." Art on the Edge. New York: Macmillan, 1975.
Barthes, Roland. "The Rhetoric of the Image." Image-Music-Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977.
Waldman, Diane. Collage, Assemblage and the Found Object. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992.

Wescher, Herta. Collage. Trans Robert E. Wolf. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1968.

Online resources for digital collage artists:
Natsuki Kimura

Other resources:
Wikipedia Entry

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