Deborah Roberts’s Elegy for Lost Innocence

SANTA FE — Deborah Roberts: Come walk in my shoes, currently on view at SITE Santa Fe, is a small powerhouse of a show. The Austin-based artist’s first solo exhibition in New Mexico features 15 large-scale collages and paintings and one sculpture, while monumental billboards activate the museum’s exterior spaces. Roberts is well known for her representations of girlhood that focus on Black girls and subvert White, Eurocentric conventions of ideal beauty. In these works, the artist refuses the fallacy of universal beauty and makes space for women of color. In Come walk in my shoes, she turns her attention to Black boys, creating thoughtful tableaus of childhood and the robbery of innocence at the hand of the government, carceral system, and broader systemic racism in the United States.

The works in the show are suffused with care, as Roberts centers the children’s beauty and vulnerability, which is often seized from them at a young age via systemic violence in the United States. In tandem with their innocence, the artist provides clues about the sinister conditions of their lives through her layering of found images with hand-drawn and painted details.

Featured Image: Installation view of Deborah Roberts: Come walk in my shoes at SITE Santa Fe. Left: “trumpet of consciousness” (2019), steel, mixed media; right: “The feeding ground” (2018), mixed media and collage on canvas

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The Evolution of Collage – Material & Digital

Collage is a technique of art that involves using different materials and objects, sometimes found elements, assembled to create a single image or piece of artwork. Collage is believed to have originated in the early 20th century with the advent of modern art movements like Cubism and Dada. The technique has evolved significantly over the years, from the physical collages of the past to the use of application  technology to create the digital collages of today, such as the eCollage work created by our community member, Jay Zerbe.

Post featured image: Nets and Grids 35, mixed media collage 8 x 8″ by Chery Baird

Using a photo editor, Zerbe takes clippings from digital images of his original canvas artwork. He assembles fragments into a new work of art called eCollage. A process he has demonstrated for artistvenu members who have followed his “eColllage and Beyond, Photoshop Workshop” or in videos featuring his sister Chery Baird, an accomplished professional mixed media and collage artist and instructor.

In this article, we will explore the origin and evolution of both material and digital collage.

The Origin of Collage

The word “collage” comes from the French word “coller,” which means “to glue.” “Coller des fragments ensemble pour créer une œuvre d’art”, or “Glue fragments together to create a work of art”.

Earliest known Collage: Still-Life with Chair Caning, 1912 by Pablo Picasso (left), and Fruit Dish and Glass by George Braque also in 1912 (right).

The first known artist to use collage techniques was Pablo Picasso. He began incorporating different materials like newspaper clippings, fabric, and other found objects into his paintings, creating a collage effect. In 1912, he produced his first collage work, “Still Life with Chair Caning,” which featured a printed oilcloth and rope that simulated the chair caning.

Another artist who contributed to the evolution of collage art was Georges Braque, who worked closely with Picasso during the development of Cubism. Braque created his first papier collé, “Fruit Dish and Glass,” also in 1912, which featured pieces of wallpaper and newspaper pasted onto the canvas.

Collage and papier collé are art forms that use different materials to create a single image or artwork. However, collage is a more general term encompassing a more comprehensive range of techniques and materials, including paper, fabric, photographs, and other found objects. Papier collé, on the other hand, is a specific type of collage process that focuses primarily on using paper materials like newspaper clippings, sheet music, and other found paper elements. While both techniques involve layering and juxtaposing different materials to create a unified work of art, papier collé refers explicitly to using paper with unique textures and effects.

The Evolution of Physical Collage

Physical collage continued to evolve throughout the 20th century. The Dada art movement, which emerged during World War I, also played a significant role in the development of collage art, with artists experimenting with different materials and techniques. In the 1920s and 30s, artists like Max Ernst and Dada artists like Hannah Hoch and Kurt Schwitters incorporated photographs and other printed materials into their collages, creating a surrealistic effect. In the 1950s and 60s, artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns used everyday objects like newspapers, clothing, and even taxidermy animals in their collages, blurring the lines between art and daily life.

Max Ernst, … Ou En Bas, Cette Indecente Amazone Dans Son Petit Désert Privé… , 1929/30, Collage Sur Papier, 8 7/8″ X 8 1/2″. Private Collection. Courtesy of Kasmin, New York.
Kurt Schwitters. The Holy Saddlers' Portfolio. 1922. Collage of papers on board folder, 15 1/8 x 21 15/16" (38.4 x 55.8 cm), Collection Claude Berri
Jasper Johns: Racing Thoughts, 1983, encaustic and collage on canvas, 48⅛ by 75⅜ inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © 2021 Jasper Johns/Licensed by Vaga At Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Die Weibe Wolke Collage by Hannah Hoch
Robert Rauschenberg. Rebus. 1955. Oil, alkyd paint, pencil, crayon, pastel, cut-and-pasted printed and painted papers, and fabric on canvas mounted and stapled to fabric, three panels, 8' × 10' 11 1/8" (243.8 × 333.1 cm). Partial and promised gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder and bequest of Virginia C. Field, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. Rübel, and gift of Jay R. Braus (all by exchange). © 2022 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

The Evolution of Digital Collage

As digital technology developed in the late 20th century, the art of collage underwent a significant transformation. Digital collage involves using computer software to create collages from digital images and other media. While the basic principle of combining different materials to create a single image remains the same, digital collage is vastly different from that of a physical (Material) collage. Yet, they share the concept of fragment assembly.

One of the main advantages of digital collage is the ease with which different elements can be combined and manipulated. With software like Adobe Photoshop, artists can easily cut and paste pieces of images and materials, adjust their size and color, and apply various effects and filters to create a seamless final image.

Another advantage of digital collage is the ability to incorporate video and audio elements into the final product, creating a multimedia experience beyond the traditional collage format.

The Future of Collage

The art of digital collage will continue to evolve as technology expands. With virtual and augmented reality advancements, artists may soon be able to create immersive collage experiences beyond the physical and digital realms.

In conclusion, collage has come a long way since its inception in the early 20th century. From the physical collages of Picasso and Braque to the digital collages of today, artists have continued to push the boundaries of the technique, incorporating new materials, processes, and technologies. Whether physical or digital, collage remains a powerful tool for artists to express themselves and create unique works of art.

Creating a collage is a fun, rewarding, and unique artistic experience that allows you to explore your creativity and showcase your personality. Gathering different materials and objects, found or otherwise, and assembling them into a single image or artwork can be both meditative and exciting. It allows you to experiment with different colors, textures, and shapes, mixing and matching objects you might not typically think to combine. Whether creating a physical collage with paper and other found objects or a digital collage with software, the possibilities for expression and imagination are endless.

Collage Artist Cuts and Pastes Vintage Magazines Into Playfully Interactive Scenes

Asolid page of text can be dry to look at. However, after Toon Joosen has added his touch, words can take on a whole new life. The Dutch artist merges magazine cutouts of people with book pages to create clever collages where figures playfully interact with text.

From sweeping up words with a broom to catching the perfect sentence with a fishing pole, Joosen finds a myriad of ways to create relationships between people and language. “My collages often consist of two images out of vintage magazines that together give an alienating and often funny effect,” he tells My Modern Met. “Sometimes images are waiting months before I find a perfect match.”

Each of these pieces begins on a sheet taken from a book. Joosen will then cut out parts of the paper or add to it as necessary to create a shape within the body of the text. Afterward, people are added to the composition and carefully placed to make it look like they are involved with the words in some way. In one example, a pair of children carry an umbrella to block out the rainstorm of falling letters, and in another young boy sits atop a large pile of words that were collected from the page spread.

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Exploration of Love: A Review of “Feathering Heights” by Frederick Hovey at ARC Gallery

Frederick Hovey, “Spooky’s Tail feathers, Collage 66″/Courtesy of the gallery

Frederick Hovey’s latest exhibition of large abstract and otherworldly giclée prints is a personal exploration of love.

“Feathering Heights” is a play on “Wuthering Heights” for its slant rhyme, but is really a deep homage to his late African Gray Parrot, Spooky, who he lived with for twenty-nine years.

His latest work of photo vignettes, which are recolored and collaged into digital 12,000-by-18,000 pixel sheet layers at 250 DPI, immerse viewers into an alliterative play on color and visual imagery.

After Hovey’s career was halted due to his grief, he looked up one day at fifteen pictures of Spooky arrayed across the wall above his desk and knew his next art project. He did, however, focus on just the feathers.

“Boom, the easiest and best decision I’ve probably ever made,” he says.

Hovey had saved around 500 of Spooky’s molted feathers and began creating the photo vignettes that he is still working with today. Using multiple light sources and angles to shoot the feathers, he creates sixty-to-one-hundred pieces from each vignette and then multiplies them by nine discrete color changes. The most current pieces are using the patterns found on the tail-feather sheets to create the cells.

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Sir Peter Cook Deconstructs His ‘Cities’ In Hybrid Exhibition At London’s Richard Saltoun Gallery

image-loaded fragments: close up shot


London-based Cook Haffner Architecture Platform (CHAP) has designed the new pieces for the Cities exhibition at the Richard Saltoun Gallery, inviting visitors to peek into the continuously evolving world of Sir Peter Cook, the visionary British architect and co-founder of the 60s avant-garde group, Archigram. Drawing on the architect’s work over the past six decades, the exhibition features a site-specific architectural environment and immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experience produced especially for the gallery, together with a selection of drawings and paintings that trace his radical vision. Visitors are therefore ’embraced’ by a new ‘hybrid’, whereby interiors are created from deliberately drawn and image-loaded fragments to evoke reimagined and dismembered cities; cities that climb over themselves to become new forms. This extends a theme recently introduced into Cook’s exhibit at the Beijing Biennale, where drawings of an architectural composition move towards real scale.

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Archigram’s Living City show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), the Cities exhibition is ‘a continuous attempt to extend the vocabulary of my work‘, as Cook explained to designboom in a recent interview. 

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Against the Ream: An Expansive Exhibition Invites Thirteen Artists to Explore the Vast ‘Possibilities of Paper’

Detail of Samuelle Green’s “Marshmallow Polypore II” (2023)

From intricate, laser-cut tendrils to vibrantly patterned collages, a new exhibition at The Torggler in Newport News, Virginia, explores the vast potential of a conventionally utilitarian material. Possibilities of Paper brings together thirteen artists from around the U.S. and Canada who have developed practices centered around experimentation and precision, employing a diverse range of techniques and styles that transform an everyday medium into elaborate works of art.

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Exploring the Cutting-Edge History and Evolution of Collage Art

Throughout the 20th century, creatives across many movements, mediums, and styles began to explore the practice of collage art. The inventive and innovative approach to art attracted artists due to its one-of-a-kind aesthetic and unique, pieced-together process.

Beginning in the modernist period and continuing into the contemporary art world, the collage art form has undergone a series of changes as more and more artists opt to explore it. Here, we look at the cutting-edge history and ever-changing evolution of the craft, paying particular attention to the movements and artists that have shaped it.

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In Surreal Collages, Julie Liger-Belair Explores Home, Interiority, and the Terrain of Dreams

“When Two Mountains Meet”

“The house can be a symbol of comfort and refuge from the harsh world. A house, in other words, can be a reflection of everything we hold dear,” says Toronto-based artist Julie Liger-Belair, whose mixed-media collages often center on depictions of home. “But a house can also be a place of fear, oppression, and powerlessness,” she adds. “I’m really obsessed by this duality.”

Liger-Belair augments found photographs, historical portraits, botanicals, and patterned papers with a range of drawing media. During the pandemic, when quarantines enforced boundaries between interior spaces and the outside world, she started to consider what it means to do or show something “on the inside.” This led to incorporating motifs related to living spaces and enigmatic dwellers. Bodies merge with architecture, botanicals bloom from torsos and limbs, and otherworldly landscapes extend into the distance.

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Storied Journeys

Emma Kalff is an American visual artist based in Colorado. A classically trained oil painter, she layers multiple scenes to create surreal collages. A road trip across the USA inspired a series of works that resulted in her first solo exhibition. Additional recognition followed, and in 2022 the artist’s work was featured in Southwest Art magazine’s 21 Under 31. Kalff studied at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. Her paintings are available through 33 Contemporary Gallery, Chicago.

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Comme d’habitude: Ways of Making, Ways of Being at Kolaj Fest New Orleans

Every Morning by Janice McDonald
14″x11″; collage with walnut ink on watercolor paper; 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Janice McDonald makes elegant, abstract collages from repurposed papers and packaging. She is “an indefatigable collector of obscure and overlooked materials, ripping elements of color and texture from their original context to re-purpose in her work.” She writes, “Ripped from their origins and any context, salvaged pieces of color and texture have an inherent strength, imbued with potential. Elements are considered, selected, placed in relationship with other components, and eventually combined into collage or assembled compositions. The transformation from fragmentary to whole evolves over time as critical connections are made.” For nearly five years, the Denver, Colorado-based artist has maintained a daily collage practice. She also has a practice of collage poetry that was informed by her experience in Kolaj Institute’s Poetry & Collage Residency in March 2022.

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