This and That: the Art of Collage

collage by Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch, Strauss, 1929-1965

The term collage comes from the French word coller, which means to glue.  And yes, collage artists do glue together scraps of papers, text and objects into a cohesive whole. But they do more than just physically glue items together, they also glue them together conceptually.

Joseph Cornell collage, "Untitled (the Hotel Eden)"

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (the Hotel Eden), 1945

Collage is inherently a poetic process. Taken out of context, new connections are formed between disparate items. Time and place are collapsed so that things that could never actually exist in the same place at the same time do.

Collage, "Tokyo," Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, Tokyo, 1964

Painters, printmakers, photographers and sculptors have used the technique of collage to bring the real world into their work. Although examples of collage can be found before the 20th century, it is identified as a modernist technique. It mimics the displacement and media saturated environment we live in.

Betye Saar's collage, "Aunt Jemima"

Betye Saar, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, 1972

Some people use the term collage to refer to two-dimensional works of art, and assemblage for sculptural pieces. Personally, I don’t see the need for separate words. I call it all collage. In future posts I’ll discuss collage in more depth, and even include a few design exercises for you to try (don’t forget this earlier post with a collage exercise called synergy.) For now, here are a few more examples of collage.

"The Dove," a collage by Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden, The Dove, 1964


Collage correspondence art by Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson, correspondence art

Collage, "The Circus Ballet Master," by Felipe Jesus Consalvos

Felipe Jesus Consalvos, The Circus Ballet Master, 1920-50

"O!," two-sided correspondence art by Jess (Collins)

Jess (Collins), O!, 2-sided correspondence

Here’s a link to a site dedicated to the art of collage…

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