Collage is often a medium we associate with happy childhood memories of cutting and sticking — seemingly simple to construct, playful and nostalgic — but, from the vibrant cut-outs of Matisse to Robert Motherwell’s enigmatic collages from the 1950s, collage is a medium steeped in creative history, with a fascinating past. One worth celebrating! With that in mind, we wanted to pay homage to the humble collage this month, and explore some of our Affordable Art Fair artists who experiment and work with this underestimated medium.
WHAT IS COLLAGE?
The term ‘collage’ was coined by Picasso and Braque at the beginning of the 20th century, and comes from the French word ‘coller,’ ‘to glue’. The technique, where clippings from magazines or newspapers, ribbons, photographs or found objects, paper, portions of text or artwork, are cut out and glued to a piece of paper or canvas, can actually be traced back hundreds of years.
Today, it’s an established technique in the world of modern art, after gaining popularity during the 1950s and 60s, as the late abstract expressionists in America took up the medium and made it their own. The playful nature of collage means the final product is often unusual, experimental and novel; chances are if you invest in a collage piece, you won’t see anything similar elsewhere.
KEY COLLAGE TERMS
Occasionally you may come across a few more of the terms and phrases below, in relation to a piece collage artwork, a similar or related technique. Here are some more explanations to help demystify them:
This French term translates to ‘pasted paper’ or ‘paper cut outs’. A subcategory of collage, it is applied to artworks which only use paper as opposed to the myriad of materials and found objects which the primary term covers. The gorgeously textural Perspective, by Ganesh Selvaraj, is a papier collé piece, using only paper and board to create this maze-like work.
A montage is a collage of images which are used in conjunction with each other to create a new, fictional scene or work of art. These pieces are generally themed – the work of Francesca Lupo is a great example of vintage inspired montage (and one of our faves!).
Unsurprisingly, a photomontage is a type of collage which only uses photographic images which are cut, glued and arranged together to create a new image. A skilled artists can easily create a photomontage that tricks the viewer into believing they are a surreal and unlikely, but original photograph. Check out the works of Alexandra Gallagher and Pum.
This term is sometimes used within descriptions of collage works, as it describes the use of multiple medias to create an artwork. However, the term mixed media describes an artwork which has been created using a much wider range of materials – for instance, layers of ink, paint, along with the classic materials used within a collage.
Décollage is the opposite technique to collage, being the process of removing materials, creating an artwork that comes to life as the layers or materials beneath are exposed. Tying in very nicely with the English translation of the term which is ‘lift-off’.
Created using three-dimensional objects, artworks classified as assemblage pieces normally contain every day found objects. Within piece of assemblage artwork, the materials are simply combined and arranged, as opposed to a montage where the materials are also manipulated in order to create a larger work.
Our online shop is bursting with collage pieces, from bright and lively works to more experimental and thoughtful paper constructions. Read on to discover our favourite collage artworks — you may be surprised by the layers of meaning this technique can convey!
Naomi Vona Catching the Fluo Perspective, 2017, collage, £200, DEGREE ART.
Featured art from first to last:
Sormeh Arab, Triangle, 2016, collage, £680, Capital Art London.
Ganesh Selvaraj, Perspective, 2018, collage, £3,200, The Brown Easel.
Alexandra Gallagher, Melancholy Paradise, 2016, limited edition print, £90, Degree Art.
Francesca Lupo, Grace in Chelsea, 2017, £380, Liberty Gallery.