History Of Collage Art
Collage became more fully developed during the advent of modernism, when Cubist pioneers Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque experimented with the idea of combining fragments of different materials to create a whole new composition. These artists mixed high culture (modern art) with elements of everyday life (pieces of textiles, newspapers, magazines, colored paper, etc.). Dada artists introduced the use of previously existing photographs in their collages, which often commented on the state of German society in the chaos of World War I. The art of collage continued to serve as inspiration in the 1950s and 1960s, when assemblage and Pop artists used found objects and images from mass produced advertisements in their works. While many artists today continue with original methods of collage, many introduce newer digital mediums to revitalize the traditional art.
Collage Art Techniques
The medium of collage places more emphasis on the concept and techniques used to create works rather than the end result itself. Artists cut and paste fragments of various preexisting materials, ranging from newspapers and magazine ads to textiles and found objects, on a variety of surfaces. Some create photo collages, using photomontage techniques with both physical and digital photographs. To further emphasize the process behind the creation of a collage, artists sometimes utilize chance procedures, like randomly arranging pieces on a surface, to create more spontaneous compositions. Artists can also work with decoupage, in which layers of cut-outs are arranged to form an image, and assemblage, in which real objects are used to make three-dimensional collages. Contemporary artists also make use of various digital formats to further expand on the artistic practice.
Famous Collage Artists
Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are well known for their Cubist collages that played on perspective and scale. Picasso’s “Still Life with Chair Caning” (1912) is one of the most iconic collages. Picasso created a tabletop still life, using an array of materials including newspaper, rope, and an oilcloth with a trompe l’oeil chair-caning pattern. Dadaist Hannah Hoch created photomontage collages, most notably “Cut With the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany” (1919-1920). Hoch is known for critiquing gender issues and politics, often combining imagery of machines and fashion in her collages. Hans Arp is touted for his use of chance in creating works like “Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance” (1917). Richard Hamilton put a Pop art spin on collage in his “Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” (1956). Henri Matisse experimented with decoupage to create his iconic “Blue Nude II” (1952). Other artists known for their collages include Kurt Schwitters, John Heartfield, Joseph Cornell, Raoul Hausmann, Lorna Simpson, Nina Yuen, Annegret Soltau, Jeese Treece, John Stezaker, Nancy Spero, and Kara Walker.