Collage art is the combination of pieces of diverse materials and media, such as newspaper, magazines, package labels, fabric, paint and photographs, into one composition. The term itself derives from the French “coller,” meaning “glue.” It was coined by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso at the beginning of the 20th century, when collage became a distinct part of modern art.
Collage promises to be an important creative outlet for many years to come because it allows artists to explore and experiment with creating truly new, exciting and often unexpected results. This article showcases the pioneers of the collage movement, current trends and examples, contemporary proponents of collage and a wealth of resources. Please feel free to use the comments area to suggest other collages or artists you like.
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Pioneers of Collage Art
Early in 1912, Picasso created “Still Life with Chair Caning” (above) by attaching a piece of oilcloth with a caning pattern to an oval-shaped painting. It is said to be the first “modern” collage; however, the claim is not definitive, because George Braque was developing a technique using papier collé in the same year.
Georges Braque developed paper collage (papier collé) using shreds of mixed media to produce the effect of actual paint, layered on the canvas with paint later being added. He first used this technique in his 1912 painting, Fruitdish and Glass (above).
A collage by German Dada and surrealist artist Kurt Schwitters entitled “Das Undbild” from 1919. Schwitters was famous for his collages, called “Merz Pictures,” in which he attempted to make coherent artistic sense of the world around him using fragments of found objects.
Paolozzi is regarded as the father of pop art in Britain. This piece, “I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything” from 1947, is considered the earliest standard-bearer of pop art. It was created from different pieces of commercially printed paper stuck to a single piece of card.
Late in his career, Matisse began to work increasingly with cut paper. He used sheets of paper washed over with gouache colors and then cut out his shapes and stuck them together, as shown above in a collage entitled “The Snail” from 1953.
Most famous for his “Combines” series of collages (1954 to 1962), Rauschenberg extended the conventions of collage and found objects and incorporated trash and interesting urban debris, such as bottles, clocks, radios, clothing, wire and newspaper, into his work.
Created in 1956 for the catalog of an exhibition in London, “Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” was the first work of pop art (or indeed collage) to achieve iconic status. It consists of images taken mainly from American magazines and advertisements.
Bearden truly embraced the collage technique, because the layered, fragmented form allowed him to freely combine ideas, shapes and cultural references in a modern and accessible way. “The Calabash” (above) of 1970 is perhaps his most famous collage.
Now let’s take a closer look at current trends and examples. As you browse through the collages in this showcase, you may notice these trends:
The use of vintage images, advertisements and materials is perhaps the biggest trend in collages today. Many collage artists take inspiration from vintage art because of its unique style and beauty.
Advertising and slogans
Not surprisingly, slogans, branding and advertising play a major part in many of the collages featured here. Consumer culture has become a major force since its appearance in collages in the late 1940s.
“Found collage” relies heavily on urban wall art, such as torn posters, ads, paint, markers and signs. It is growing in popularity, partly because of artists such as Nick Riggio, who creates urban collage paintings.
Here is a selection of the best tutorials on creating outstanding collages.
- Mixed Media Use a combination of acrylic paints, brushes, gel and various scraps of paper and images.
- Digital Collage An in-depth tutorial from Teodoru Badiu on making his piece entitled “Atlas.”
- Fabric Collage A simple way to use old fabrics to create a unique work of art.
And now, a round-up of the best collage blogs:
And some Flickr groups dedicated to mixed media and digital- and paper-based collage:
- Collage Crazy
- All Collages
- Creative Collage
- Collage Kids
- Collage A Day
- Paper Collage
- I Make Collages
- Digital Collages
- Innovative Collage
- Photos and Digital Collages
- Vintage Collage Art
- Vintage Paper Collage
- Retro Collage
- Photoshop Collages
- Your Collage
- Collage Jerks
- Collage Brut
- Urban Collage
- Shape Collage
- Photoshop Collages
- Etsy Collage Artists
- Social and Political Collages
Contemporary Collage Artists
- Winston Smith Known for his politically subversive work, Smith has been one of the foremost collage artists since the 1970s.
- Cecil Touchon Founder of the International Museum of Collage and founder of the International Society of Assemblage and Collage Artists.
- Jonathan Talbot Respected author on collage who has exhibited at the National Academy and the Museum of Modern Art.
- Peter Clark His innovative use mark-making make for a collection that exudes character and wit.
- Mia Moore California-based collage artist whose complex works meld textures of old and new paper and layers of acrylic paint.
- Claudia Hellmuth A prominent artist who creates mixed media collages that are whimsical and colorful, with a dash of retro.
- Michelle Caplan California-based collage artist whose complex works meld textures of old and new paper and layers of acrylic paint.
- Dennis Sibeijn Netherlands-based designer working as an audio-visual designer at Technicolor, and co-founder and designer at Monument studio.
- Collage Art Organisation
- Collage Artists of America
- International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction
- Cut & Paste: International Exhibition of Contemporary Collage
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