Collage | From Picasso through Dada and Pop Art to Contemporary Collage

This week students are back and it’s the start of a new trimester, so I prepared some materials for my Illustration unit to help students tackle their first project. The project is about collage, and so I had a look at the history of collage as an artistic technique. The slides are posted here.

Collage is a fantastic technique for budding Illustrator and students because one can start out with very simple compositions but push the technique to create complex paper cut artwork. Among my favourite artists currently working with collage are for instance Joseba Elorza Aka Mira Ruido because of her sense for the dramatic and playful engagement with scale.

Mira Ruido Lost  2009

Mira Ruido, Lost, 2009

 Another favourite must be Julien Pacaud, whose work is more surrealist. Julien’s sense of space is one of the most interesting features of his artwork.

Julien Pacaud High Land

Julien Pacaud, High Land, undated

The third artists whose work really struck me, although conceptually it is very different from the landscapes and surreal parallel worlds by some other collage artists is that of Bill Zindel. His collages are less focused on scale, but instead are investigations of colours, patterns, and textures, and how these can be combined.

Bill Zindel Explaining the Atom

Bill Zindel, Explaining the Atom, 2010

What was most interesting in thinking of the development of collage as a technique was its development from its use by artists such as Picasso and Braque, to the social criticism and deconstruction of social value by Dada artists through Pop-Art’s investigation of contemporary culture, to the kinds of collage we see today. Whatever artists aim to do, by employing the technique of collage there is always an element of fragmentation and recombination, which seems to imply a subtle shift in reality. At the same time, collage is always a reference to contemporary culture, which makes it such a potent technique to comment on society. That’s why for me collage is always linked to the kind of subversive social deconstruction Dada aimed to achieve.

Hannah Höch, “Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Beer-Belly of the Weimar Republic, 1919, collage of pasted papers

Hannah Höch, “Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Beer-Belly of the Weimar Republic, 1919, collage of pasted papers

During my investigation I discovered this fantastic book from the Gestalten Verlag, one of my favourite publishers in the world.

Fantastic book about contemporary Collage artists

Cutting Edges Graphic Design & Art Contemporary Collage Editors: R. Klanten, H. Hellige, J. Gallagher ISBN: 978-3-89955-338-3

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