Collage, Ducks with Heads of Women, attributed to Kate E.Gough (England, active 1860s-80s), circa 1870. Print, watercolour and ink. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Before Braque and Picasso started cutting and pasting around 1912, the collaged picture was a parlour pastime. Home-made albums contained magazine clippings, mementoes and original artwork, all stuck together. It was the Cubists who turned collage into an avant-garde medium, with a 3D version, the constructed sculpture.
Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912. © Photo RMN - René Gabriel Ojéda. © Succession Picasso/DACS, London, 2015
Their collages were a jeu d’esprit carried to its logical conclusion. If art was its own reality, why not use real things to make art? In Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning (1912) collage announced itself equal to painting.
Henri Matisse, Nu bleu IV, 1952. Gouache on cut and pasted paper, 103 x 74 cm © Succession H. Matisse/DACS, London 2015.
Photo: François Fernandez
Whereas Cubist collage preferred the muted tones of newsprint and tobacco, Henri Matisse’s late cut-outs injected strong colour and scissored shape into the mix. Later 20th-century collage, however, is often more concerned with matter and texture than colour and design. In Alberto Burri’s sackcloth collages, a ‘poor’ material imparts humanity to austerely abstract configurations.
Burri, Alberto (1915-1995), Sackcloth 1953. Burlap and thread on canvas. 33 7/8 x 39 3/8 in. (86 x 100 cm). © The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence. © DACS, London 2015
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