Archive for collage

Robert Rauschenberg

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 27, 2011 by schwitters57



In the wake of the invention of collage by Braque and Picasso, as well as that of Dadaist assemblage, Rauschenberg reinvented these practices, giving them new impact in his Combines. A child of Dada, Rauschenberg was influenced by the assemblages of Kurt Schwitters, whose example led him to suggest that art and life are but one. Nevertheless, as Barbara Rose has pointed out, Rauschenberg’s art drew its inspiration from the America of that era, and the artist was reacting against Abstract Expressionism and its goal of the absolute when he incorporated images from magazines or non-artistic materials into his works. As with any great artist, the influences on his work can be sought far afield; among the painters who have marked him profoundly, the artist cites Leonardo da Vinci and his Annunciation (1475-1478) at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. “Since his painting is life, the tree, the rock, the Virgin are all given the same importance at the same time. There is no hierarchy. This is what interests me.” (Interview with André Parinaud, op.cit.) The same can be said of the Combines, where each element maintains its own integrity without obscuring the others. The present and the past, press photos or reproductions of masterpieces of Western art, drawing and painting, cushions and boxes are incorporated into his works, as they attempt to introduce “totality into the moment.”

As the name suggests, the Combines are hybrid works that associate painting with collage and assemblage of a wide range of objects taken from everyday life. Neither paintings nor sculptures, but both at once, Rauschenberg’s Combines invade the viewers’ space, demanding their attention, like veritable visual puzzles. From stuffed birds to Coca-Cola bottles, from newspaper to press photos, fabric, wallpaper, doors and windows, it is as though the whole universe enters into his combinatorial process to join forces with paint. A friend of John Cage, Rauschenberg also took an interest in sound, and in his later Combines, he developed analogies between music and visual arts. Through his affinity with Merce Cunningam and dance, some of his works became stage décors.

Minutiae ( 1954. Oil, paper, fabric, newspaper, wood, metal, plastic with mirror on wooden structure. ) is one of the first and most important freestanding Combine paintings. Designed for a dance performance for his friend Merce Cunningham, the work is from the outset at the centre of life. It consists of three vertical panels of different sizes, connected to each other.

As in all the Combines paintings, the surface is irregular, covered with newspaper clippings of comic strips, old photos and pieces of posters. Paint covers the entire piece, in the form of drips or colored surfaces. Between the panels is a passage in which a multicolored fabric curtain serves as the element joining the different parts. This fabric, attached to the top of the panels, allows the dancers to pass through. Wood, metal, plastic, and a mirror mingle in this composition dominated by reds, yellows and blues. On the left panel is a curious plant motif, as if thrown there with a few brush strokes and almost intact in its pictorial vivacity, resembling an ancient fresco from Pompeii, which attracts the viewer’s attention, by suddenly introducing an element from another time and place.

All at once a screen, a stage prop and a painting, this Combine painting presents itself as an open structure. Requiring more than a simple glance, this work does not demand the multiplicity of viewpoints, but the “multiplication of gazes”, as Catherine Millet has noted, adding that the Combines incite us to pass freely through the work. (“Le corps morcelé de la sculpture, Robert Rauschenberg” [The divided body of sculpture, Robert Rauschenberg] in Art Press, no. 90, March, 1985.)


Untitled1955
(Combine painting
Oil, crayon, pastel, paper, fabric, print reproductions, photographs and cardboard on wood.)

Titles are of much importance to Rauschenberg. “They are all starting points. They are there when I begin my work, either I try to be consciously provocative or funny or macabre… The title is like another object in the work. It’s a deliberately solid and complex thought that obliges you to circle about the pieces, since because of them, you have the impression of never being in the right place.” (Interview of Robert Rauschenberg by Catherine Millet and Myriam Salomon, in Art Press, no. 65, December, 1982).

Therefore, when the artist calls a work Untitled, he gives full force to the absence of a title. There is no prior entry into the subject of the painting that the viewer can grab hold of, no starting point to restrain the imagination. The viewer is left alone to face the sensitive and open experience of the work. “If you talk too much about it, you see nothing. My work is made to be seen,” the artist has declared. The viewer is confronted here with a work that requires an examination, piece by piece, of the different elements that compose it, but without the artist insisting that one element has any meaning with respect to another. For what Rauschenberg wanted to do was to create paintings that “two people cannot see in the same way.” In reference to this, Catherine Millet has subtly emphasized that “Rauschenberg considers art as a means of individuation, opposed to everything in the social, ideological, political… or magical domain, that brings things together.” (Art Press, no. 90, op.cit). He does not seek community of the imagination. His art divides more than it assembles the immense catalogue of images, objects and things that are the world.

In this Combine, the artist juxtaposes images from magazines, photographs, fragments of posters, patterned fabric on which the paint slides. The image of a female nude sitting at an angle across tree trunks contrasts with the horizontal frontality of the building flying the American flag, while at the feet of the young woman a line of turquoise paint leads to a pool of blue.

This information is from the Centre Pompidou’s publication of Robert Rauschenberg Combines (1953-1964) thier exhibit from October 11 2006 through January 15, 2007.

I think a timeline post is needed her. Rauschenberg references so many artists and I’d like to make a post detailing these influences, especially since many of the references are to other collage artists.

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Day Seven: More Cornell

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 6, 2010 by schwitters57

Untitled (Solar Set), c. 1956-58. Construction, 11 1/2 x 16 1/4 x 3 5/8 inches. Collection Donald Karshan, New York

Untitled (Pharmacy). 1943. Construction, 15 1/4 x 12 x 3 1/8 inches. Collection Mrs Marcel Duchamp, Paris.

Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall). 1945-46. Construction, 20 1/2 x 16 x 3 1/2 inches. Collection Mr. and Mrs. E.A. Bergman, Chicago.

Untitled (Soap Bubble Set). 1936. Construction 15 1/4 x 14 1/4 x 5 7/16 inches. Wadsworth Athenum, Hartford, Conn. The Henry and Walter Keney Fund.

In the fifties and sixties, “assemblage” has emerged as a distinctly American form of sculpture. Like Surrealist objects, a lineal descendant of collage, assemblage–the art of joining unlikely objects or images together in a single context–has as ancestors Duchamp’s 1913 Bicycle Wheel and Picasso’s 1914 Absinthe Glass with Spoon. Because it uses material from the environment and lends itself to eccentric experiments, assemblage seems especially suited to the American temperament.

Like Schwitters, Cornell is able to distill poetry and drama from ordinary fragments. Cornell is . . . attracted to precious fragments–crystal goblets, bits of sparkle, etc. His “boxes” are actually three-dimensional collages, star-maps of a private universe. In fact astronomical imagery is important to Cornell’s iconography. His objects in their new context take on new meanings akin to poetic metaphor. – Barbara rose. American Art Since 1900. Holt, Reinhart and Winston. 1987.

Upcoming . . . Day Eight: Richard Hamilton.

Day five: Little man, 1986

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 28, 2010 by schwitters57

Many of the collages I’ve made use photography. In the back ground of this image is the negative space created from cutting out two of the Three Stooges for a collage made for an article in the Washington Post. I’ve always liked this little guy and his repeated image. In literature the use of a repeated image often underscores some larger construct that the author has in mind. There is no larger construct here.

Day four: technology, 1986

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 28, 2010 by schwitters57

This is a good example of the interplay of imagery, the juxtaposition of lines meeting lines, abstract meets representational. I just got off on putting all of the golden tones together and then breaking the color up w/ bright blue and red. At the time I was referencing Max Ernst. i wanted the image to be machine like and organic at the same time.

Day three

Posted in collage, american, Uncategorized with tags , on March 28, 2010 by schwitters57


I am someone who got a college degree by always having something to say about art or literature. I believe that it involves the search for identity, and that figuring out who you are somehow frees up the the ability to appraise all kind of art, music, literature. I have no idea if this is true, it’s just something I believe and I’m going with it. The exception to this opinion is that when it comes to my own work, I don’t necessarily have as much to say. I like the composition of this collage. It was made in 1986 & I have kept it around all these years, never in my portfolio, but just sitting on a shelf where I can see it.

Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau (1887-1948)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 23, 2010 by schwitters57

Kurt Schwitters was a collage artist living in Hannover, Germany, creating two dimensional collages from found objects, gum wrappers, ciggarette papers, newspapers, ticket stubs, whatever caught his eye. But what Schwitters called his life’s work was the Merzbau which he began in his home in 1923.

The walls and ceiling were covered with a diversity of three – dimensional shapes and the room itself was crowded with materials and objects – or “spoils and relics”, as Schwitters himself put it – which were contained in countless nooks and grottoes, some of them totally obstructed by later additions to the work, with the result that their contents then existed only in one’s memory of the Merzbau in one of its former states. –Zvonimir Bakotin from http://www./merzbau.org

Schwitters began his first Merzbau in his home in Hannover, Germany in1923. It began as an abstract plaster sculpture with apertures dedicated to his dadaist and constructivist friends and containing objects commemorating them: Mondrian, Gabo, Arp, Lissitzky, Malevich, Richter, Mies van der Rohe, and Van Doesburg. The Merzbau grew throughout the 1920’s with successive accretions of every kind of material until it filled the room. Having then no place to go but up, he continued the construction with implacable logic into the second story.

H.H. Arnason, History of Modern Art, 1984.

The most amazing part of Kurt Schwitters story is that he was excluded from the German Dadasts (1918-1923), as though what he was doing was somehow not within the realm of the Dadasts. A listing of the German group includes Raoul Hausmann, & George Grosz, but no others that are particularly well known.  Both Hausmann and Grosz would later go on to claim that they had also created photomontage along the way. This was not the case, as the French had papier colle derived from cubist collage. See Pablo Picasso’s chair w/ caning from 1912, on this site. ABOUT PAGE.


Romare Bearden 1911-1988

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 23, 2010 by schwitters57

Collage is the most modern expression of art. Combining static images to create a kind of kinetic image, albeit a technically motionless image, that achieves motion through the strategic placement of the individual components, creating tension. Look at the work of Romare Beardon, 20th century collage artist. His piece Train Whistle Blues from 1964 is so full of motion that it practically jumps off the page.  How does he do it? Beardon uses the contrast of proportions to make his collage move by aligning the segments to create a kind of visual tension between the elements. Your eye is drawn through the  page following the motion, attempting to make sense of it all.

This second collage is Train Whistle Blues II, also from 1964. Again, Bearden creates such surprising juxtapositions by varying the scale of his elements. He also incorporates paint or chalk or even pencil markings right on the surface of the collages, enhancing the effects. His collages are very cubist in style, the elements of time and space are exposed from many facets, yet all contained within a single frame. And that is what makes collage so essentially modern, that rush of layered information coming at you, bombarding you non-stop. Bearden also uses photography and photo copying to repeat and exaggerate the images.

One last collage, Pittsburgh Memo, another from 1964, the year of his best work. Here you can really see how Bearden manipulates scale, breaking down the all the elements of facial features and reassembling them into something completely unexpected, yet still familiar enough that we’re able to see ourselves in these images.