Collage (from French collage – “gluing”) is a kind of decorative and applied art, in which the artist creates an art object by gluing on the basis of dissimilar pieces of materials. The collage is also called the work of art itself, made using the technology described above.

Collage is very close in its essence to the application but has an important significant difference. When making an application, its author uses homogeneous elements (such as leaves, fabric, or skin), and when creating a collage – at the same time, several completely different in texture and origin of materials.

Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. Jane Frank. Frazer’s Hog Cay #18, 1976

Collage Types

Collage has become a popular technique in various forms of art these days. It is used in his work not only avant-garde painters working with canvas and paints, by including fragments from different materials. Collages are very popular today:

  • In the art of photography. Thanks to the unusual combination of several photos in one picture, you get a spectacular work of art. All kinds of photo collages may vary greatly in genre and style.
  • In cinematography and video art processing. They have skillfully selected slices of video materials from different films, combined with the original idea of the author.
  • In music. In the early twentieth century, during the search for new ideas in art, many very famous composers used in their creations fragments from the works of colleagues. This technical method has not lost its relevance even today.
  • In literature. Adherents of surrealism, futurism, and modernism include in their works foreign documents and quotations from the works of other writers. This causes strong emotions in the reader and becomes the subject of heated discussion of the book.
Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. John Walker. Matilda, 2020

Collage History

The history of collage dates back to the second century BC. At that time the first samples of such art learned to make in China. Ancient artists glued pieces of different materials to paper in addition to painted ink images.

Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. Jean Metzinger. Velodrome, 1912.

In Europe, the first attempts to create collages date back to the XIII century. Pieces of gold leaf and precious stones were glued to icons, coats of arms of rulers, and inner walls of Gothic temples. But this practice was not widespread, and in the Renaissance was replaced by inlay.

Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. Georges Braque. Violin and Tube, 1913.

The full birth of collage as a technique and kind of fine art took place only in the early twentieth century, during the rapid flowering of new modernist styles and trends in painting:

  • dadaism;
  • cubism;
  • futurism;
  • surrealism;
  • synthetics.
Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. Conrad Marca-Relli. Untitled, 1955

The adherents of these trends in art were the first to introduce collage elements into their pictorial works. A variety of materials were used, which were always at hand:

  • scraps of old newspapers;
  • shreds of fabric;
  • labels;
  • photographs;
  • wooden sticks and chips.
Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. Kurt Schwitters. Metz Drawing #47, 1920.

One of the first to use this technique was the brilliant Pablo Picasso. In 1912, he created the famous painting “Still-Life with Chair Caning” – an icon of Cubism. The work, written in oil, is framed with a rope, and pieces of gluing are glued to a part of its surface.

Collage - a popular modern art technique
Still-Life with Chair Caning, 1912 by Pablo Picasso

The first wave of collage popularity in art had come to an end in the late 1930s. But after 20 small years, the cultural environment again showed interest in this technique. In November 1962, the New Realist Exhibition was held in New York, where works by young artists in the new style of pop art were presented. Many works were created in collage technique and caused great resonance during the show.

Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage. Tom Wesselman. “Still Life #30”, 1963

Since then, collage has taken its rightful place in modern culture. It has become a popular method of artists’ expression not only in painting but also in many other forms of art. Even kids in kindergartens today are happy to learn how to make collages, and the public is happy to come to exhibitions, where works by the best masters of this technique are presented.

Collage - a popular modern art technique
Collage from photos and newspapers, the beginning of the XXI century.

Famous artists – masters of collage

Among the famous masters of collage, there are many bright creative personalities worthy of attention. And yet, the greatest contribution to the development of this technique has made such artists:

  • Kurt Schwitters is a German art worker, poet, and artist. Schwitters not only actively used the collage technique in his works but also made unique abstract compositions with its help.
  • Lee Krasner is an American artist, wife of Jackson Pollock. She became widely known for her unusual manner of creating collages. Krasner cut her own abstract paintings into pieces and then put together new works of art.
  • Tom Wesselmann is an American artist who created many numbered still-life collages. Wesselmann stood at the origins of pop art, although he never considered himself a supporter of this trend in art.
  • John Walker is an English master of painting, famous for his original works. Walker created collages by gluing painted cut pieces of another canvas to the main canvas.


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