I looked at a number of books as my main avenue of research for my project. My goal was to orient myself in a historical context of collage. I always find the most inspiration looking at art history.
I don’t know a lot about collage as an art form in the first place, so I thought it would be important to learn about the techniques and themes that collage artists have used over time.
I started in the present day and worked my way backwards, beginning with an overview of influential contemporary collage artists. It was really useful to see the way artists use the visual language of collage, what materials they use, and what choices they make. I took notes as I read.
- textural elements
- my own drawings
- mechanical illustrations
- medical illustrations
- changing the human figure
- cutting out tones to create a new image
- covering base with salvaged blocks of tone
- surreal scenes
- negative space
- interaction between unrelated figures
- juxtaposition of scale
- torn edges
- cutouts to reveal something underneath
- Modern vs. Historical
- Drawing vs. Photograph
- Layers of collage – layers of meaning
- eroticism in a bizarre sense
Historically, I wanted to look at the Dada movement, since it is the movment that kicked off photomontage and that is what I’m probably going to do primarily for my project.
Dada supposedly started with Hugo Ball’s “Cabaret Voltaire” in Switzerland. This was a cabaret which displayed both visual and performance art. However, Dadaism has been described as a kind of anti-art movement in the sense that it prides itself on being almost totally irrational. It often had an anti-war slant and strove to be an active force in the world. It continued to defy the expectations of its audience with increasingly bizarre expressions. I think its photomontages really capture the spectacle and power of Dadaism, as well as its relationship to surrealism and the grotesque.
“What we call Dada is a peace of tomfoolery from the void in which all the lofty questions have become involved…” -Hugo Ball
Hannah Höch is one of my favorite artists from this period. Not only is she the only well-known female Dadaist, she was one of the main artists who founded the photomontage genre in the movement. Her art has a female sensibility that I like, and the imagery she creates and way she handles space is very unique to her.
She frequently uses deconstructed and reassembled figures to grotesque effect – particularly by swapping or otherwise changing heads. Her sense of space is very flat, indicated only by overlap. She also uses female figures, which is something you don’t see often in other Dadaist’s work at the time.
Ades, Dawn. Photomontage. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1986. Print.
Elger, Dietmar, and Uta Grosenick. Dadaism. Koln: Taschen, 2004. Print.
Plowman, Randel, and Terry Taylor. Masters: Collage: Major Works by Leading Artists. New York: Lark, 2010. Print.