July 5, 2012
The summer class I teach at the Pelham Art Center: Embellish An Image: Play with Collage includes a mix of new students and returning students, ranging in ages from younger than 20 to seventies and above. It’s a great group. They are all creative and many are very experienced with art and collage.
Because it was the first class for the summer session, I asked the students to introduce themselves and say what they wanted to accomplish in the 8 classes. I wanted them to learn about each other and what they each expected. It’s important for the students to hear about each other’s goals, and sharing is important for the group experience.
COLLAGE and JEAN ARP
I planned the first class with a learning-to-see project that would be simple and also challenging: a geometric abstraction.
I brought individual sandwich-sized Baggies filled with tiny pre-cut papers, one Baggie for each person. See the image below with the papers, a metal ruler, a pair of scissors, a pencil and an eraser. You can see how small the papers are in relation to the ruler and pencil.
IT LOOKS EASY…LOOKS ARE DECEIVING
The collage project is inspired by a work of art titled Rectangles Arranged According to the Laws of Chance by Jean (Hans) Arp. Arp’s collage includes 22 papers. Arp (French, born Germany – Alsace, 1886-1966) created many collages titled Squares (Rectangles) Arranged According to the Laws of Chance. See more images.
I wanted the class to pay attention the different shapes and sizes of the papers. If the papers were different, they would create a totally different work of art.
I showed a sample (reproduction) of Art’s collage. See image below. The original collage, completed in 1916, is about 10 x 5 inches.
We discussed a little bit about Arp and the art movement called Dada. They all knew something about it. I suggested that Arp didn’t arrange his papers by chance even though the title of his work says so (and Arp did multiple collages with that title).
I tossed a few loose papers onto the table to demonstrate that the papers didn’t – couldn’t – land in the same order as the sample collage I showed them.
We talked about how to begin placing the papers. I created a sample collage with the same papers that were included in the Baggies. See the image below.
I said the class project would be fun and challenging and test their ability to look carefully (it really was all about developing that skill).
I showed them the gluing technique I use: white PVA glue applied with a bristle brush, papers pressed flat with a plastic squeegee. I showed them how I applied the glue and used a piece of waxed paper as a barrier sheet between the collage and the squeegee as the papers are glued down.
I said they should study the collage by Arp and notice the spaces between the papers, the angles if they varied, where the papers touch, and if they overlap.
The papers in the Baggies ranged in color from white to warm grey and green grey to black, representing 5 different tonal values. Each person got a watercolor-weight paper substrate in a contrasting white. The substrate is the bottom collage layer.
I showed the students that some of the papers in my sample collage were shaded with a pencil and some of the pencil markings were lightened with the eraser – all to create texture and tonal variations.
I brought artists pencils – 3B, 4B, 5B, and 7B. They tried out the different pencils and selected the pencil they wanted to use. B is a soft lead pencil. The higher the number, the softer the lead and darker the line. I also brought pencils H and HB, which are harder lead and make lighter lines. Nobody wanted to use these.
See samples of the collages created in the class below. Each collage is inspired by Arp’s collage, but each one is unique because each student decided to be original as they finished assembling the papers. Many took the collage to the next level and cut and pasted extra papers to embellish their image.
The images above include extra papers, curvy, cut shaped papers, and 3 dimensional cut papers.
We all need creative time. The collage class is about play (it’s titled Play With Collage), but it’s really about personal expression, developing an eye, and building confidence with each success.
I believe PLAY IS SERIOUS WORK.
I checked out “Adults Need to Play, Too (online) and found a link to many articles, including an article in Scientific American magazine titled The Serious Need for Play.
They say life flows with greater ease if we allow ourselves some time for play every day.
They say it makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed. Read more…
May 3, 2012
In my last post, I wrote about the artist Jean (Hans) Arp. He made collage according to the laws of chance. He dropped squares of paper onto paper and gave the works titles like Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance. The image below is made with cut and pasted papers, ink and bronze paint (1917), image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement that started in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916. A lot of Dada was about the laws of chance. The movement started as a political protest and dissipated after the close of World War 1. Many of the artists (Jean Arp, Kurt Schwitters, and Max Ernst) left protest for studio practice and went on to build stellar art careers.
I am fascinated by Dada. I think it’s resurgent, and think a lot of contemporary art is inspired by Dada.
Dada and Marcel Duchamp
Dada is still with us because of the artist Marcel Duchamp.
Duchamp was not a member of the Dadaist movement (he resisted joining groups). But, he was a natural Dadaist all his life.
The Bride and the Bachelors
Read Calvin Tomkins book The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant-Garde (Duchamp, Tinguely, Cage, Rauschenberg, Cunningham). I bought the paperback, first published in 1965. The first chapter is about Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968).
Duchamp said: “Why worry about art when life is what matters…Do unto others as they would wish – but with more imagination.”
Duchamp invented the term readymade – see the image below of “Bicycle Wheel” (1913/1964)
Calvin Tomkins: Unlike the Surrealist objet trouve – a common object chosen for its accidental aesthetic value, the readymade has no aesthetic value whatsoever (according to Duchamp). Tomkins adds: therefore, it functions in a sense as a derisive comment on all art traditions and dogmas.
Read more about Duchamp at the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France) website.
Every art movement that uses everyday objects today can thank Duchamp for leading the way.
One of Duchamp’s most famous readymades was titled “Fountain” – a porcelain urinal turned upside down with the signature R. Mutt.
Duchamp (and Joseph Stella) sent the sculpture to the 1917 exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists at the NYC Armory show. Duchamp was a founding member of the Society. The work created a furor. The hanging committee refused to exhibit the readymade sculpture.
Calvin Tomkins wrote: Duchamp commented slyly: The only works of art in America are her plumbing and her bridges.
Fountain Art Fair, New York 2012
Flash Forward to 2012 and the Fountain Art Fair (March 9-11) at the 69th Regiment Armory at Lexington Ave. and 25th Street during New York Art Week.
This is the same 69th Regiment Armory where Marcel Duchamp famously hung his “Nude Descending a Staircase in 1913 (showing alongside contemporary artists like Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso) – Duchamp would later secure a place in art history with his readymade (urinal) titled FOUNTAIN (1917).
In March, I participated with a group of 72 artists in a salon-style installation at the Fountain Art Fair with a group called Hullaballoo Collective – at booth E212. The collective was organized by Bernard Klevikas and several other artists who live and work in Brooklyn, NY. I exhibited 2 collages.
Here’s a link to the BlouinArtInfo blog with the title: Fountain Artists Honor Armory History with Playful Nods to Duchamp…
One Hullaballoo member made the connection from the Fountain Art Fair to Marcel Duchamp, exhibited a work titled Idol Inaction, and arrived at the opening reception wearing a Duchamp jersey. See image of Brian Goings below at the Hullaballoo booth.
Bernard Klevickas wrote the Hullaballoo statement:
Hullaballoo Collective is a diverse group of artists who have come together through social media to present a salon style exhibition at the Fountain Art Fair… We are artists. We are part of the egalitarian zeitgeist, the energy that underlies the new century and that uses new tools to reach broad audiences. There’s a Hullaballoo website. There was a lot of buzz. The website shows works by the artists in the Collective.
The image below is my work, titled Recycle 1, collage, assorted papers recycled from old monoprints, 22×18 inches, cut and assembled in random order.
I don’t know if this year’s downtown Armory show was different from recent years. I’ve read reviews that say the show has changed and is getting upscale. I was expecting the space to be raw and unfinished and the art to be young and edgy.
According to Fountain organizers, this year’s show attracted over 10,000 visitors in 3 days. On opening night, there was a line around the block to get in – and we did get art critics Jerry Salz and Roberta Smith at our booth. Read about the record attendance…
WHAT WOULD DUCHAMP SAY?
What would Duchamp say? I know he disdained the confluence of art and commerce (but managed very well – thank you!). some art critics say he gave up art for chess, but his readymades were re-made in the mid-20th century, shown to great fanfare, and his work is now known around the world.
I bet he would love the idea of social media and the possibilities of the Internet.
What do you think Duchamp would do about Social Media?
April 25, 2012
I am a big fan of work by the artist Jean (Hans) ARP. He was born in 1886 in Strasbourg. His mother was French and his father was German. When he spoke French, he referred to himself as Jean; when he spoke German he referred to himself as Hans.
Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement that started in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916.
He is known for his curvy biomorphic sculptures and painted wood relief sculpture. He is also known for geometric abstract collage.
One of my favorite works by Arp is titled Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance , 1917 (cut and pasted papers, ink, and bronze paint), collection the Museum of Modern Art, New York, seen below (image the Internet).
Arp claimed he created the work by dropping cut and torn papers onto another paper and attaching them where they landed. Many people believe the artist moved the papers around as he made the collage.
Arp denied it, and his titles are his testament to the Dada premise that the work is done by chance.
Dada art is anti-art. It is anti-aesthetic.
By definition, Dada (especially in painting) was based on irrationality.
A BUNCH OF SQUARES
In my opinion, a painting that is a bunch of squares arranged by chance is not high art – unless it is Dada. Then it is anti-art in the highest dadaist tradition.
The image below is another early collage by Arp, titled Rectangles Arranged According to the Laws of Chance (1916) 9 7/8 x 4 7/8 inches.
HAVE YOU EVER DROPPED A SQUARE?
I’ve tried to drop squares and see if they land well.
I teach collage classes and ask students to drop squares and see if they land well. I show them the image by Arp (above).
It doesn’t work. The squares never land where they should. We always feel compelled to adjust the spaces between the papers, moving them closer together or further apart.
Here’s a Lesson in Design
The spaces in between are important. Spaces help create a pattern and a rhythm for the composition, both basic elements of good design.
Arp is famous for his curvy sculpture and painted wood relief sculpture.
He also titled them Arranged According to the Laws of Chance . The image below was done in 1928. It is a painted wood relief sculpture, 55 1/8 x 42 ½ inches (private collection).
Notice some of the shapes are circular and some are biomorhic (like flower petals). Notice the spaces between the wood pieces. Some are closer; some are further apart; some almost touch. Notice the variations in size and value. Some are bigger; some are smaller. Some are darker; some are lighter. The relationship between the pieces is perfect and creates a sense of movement and rhythm so your eye keeps moving.
SURROUNDED BY HIS SCULPTURE
The image below shows Arp in 1958 in his studio at Meudon, a suburb of Paris, France, surrounded by his sculpture (photo by Andre Villers).
I found the images in a book about Arp printed in 1958. The book was published by the Musuem of Modern Art, New York.
I was lucky to find the book – by chance – at a tag sale in New Canaan, CT at the Silvermine Arts Center (the tag sale is an annual event).
I brought my collage to Silvermine for the 90th Anniversary Exhibition, May 5-June 9, 2012 and found an art book.
I planned to write this post about Art and Dada, and by chance found a book about Arp and Dada.
Below is an image of my collage I delivered to Silvermine Arts Center. The papers are cut and torn and assembled – not by chance. The image is 16×18 inches.
I converted my collage (above) from color to black and white – to match the other black and white images from the book about Arp.
The collage is made with recycled papers. I think the elements look like totems. That is how the work got its title Recycled Totems.
Do you think Arp created his collages by chance?
Did you ever try to create a work by chance?
Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment below.
Read more about Dadaism:
Dada laid the groundwork for abstract art and sound poetry; it’s a precursor to postmodernism and pop art. Read about the important artists in Dada and how the Dada movement influenced performance art, poetry and music…
January 24, 2012
A friend recently asked – Have you seen any good art shows recently?
I remember she was really asking if I had seen the exhibition Willem de Kooning: A Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art – MoMA (September 8, 2011 – January 9, 2012).
Yes, I saw the de Kooning show. I love the way he painted – and the works are so strong and still looks so fresh!
The two images above are my favorites. The top image is titled “Painting.” It’s oil and enamel on canvas (1948) 42 x 56 inches. The 2nd image is titled “Woman I” – it’s oil on canvas (1950-52) 75 x 58 inches. Both images: the Internet.
If you didn’t see the exhibition, visit the MoMA website which reviews de Kooning’s major themes, includes a timeline with images, and information on the artist’s methods and materials.
I enjoyed reading the NY Times art review by Holland Cotter (Sept. 15, 2011).
Cotter talked about de Kooning’s third “Woman” series as outrageous busty Gorgons with equine grins that caused fits when first exhibited.
Those are the ones I love. I went to the show to see de Kooning’s busty Gorgons – and the lush black and white abstractions.
DE KOONING AT ABMB
I checked the Internet and found a terrific art blog that talked about de Kooning at MoMA and recaps ABMB.
It opens with a rave review of the de Kooning retrospective (also saying it was easier to get into ABMB than get into MoMA to see the de Kooning show).
There’s an image right away of de Kooning’s Marilyn (Marilyn Monroe) titled “Woman” (1964), 24×18 inches, charcoal and pencil on paper, seen below. Image: the Internet.
Right next to de Kooning’s Marilyn are 2 Vic Munoz Marilyns (Munoz was one of many artists inspired by de Kooning).
A little further into the blog is a large, late de Kooning seen at ABMB: “Untitled XII,” oil on canvas (1985), 80×70 inches. Image: the Internet.
HAVE YOU SEEN ANY GOOD ART RECENTLY?
Back to the question I was asked – have you seen any good art shows recently?
It took a few seconds for me to reply – YES – I saw the best art show ever at ABMB in December 2011.
Every gallery was out to impress.
There was so much art to see that my eyes hurt by the end of the day.
I loved the ingenious installations, the glitz and the panorama.
I got to see a lot of great collage.
Almost immediately, I came face to face with a large Mark Bradford collage, titled “A Thousand Words.”
The image above is the collage, seen in NYC at the Sikkema Jenkins Gallery. The image shows it’s scale.
Here’s a link to a great video-rich website starring Mark Bradford, organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts. Check it out. It’s cutting edge.
Read my blog about Mark Bradford, written March 11, 2011.
The image above is me in front of a wall of collages. Each work was a mini masterpiece. Image: Mary Hunter.
I found enough collage to make me happy, including collage on sculpture. I took the image below.
TOP PLAYERS ARE THERE
I walked inside an installation by Theaster Gates – titled Glass Pavilion – and found myself looking up at glass lantern slides. I spoke with Kavi Gupta; The Kavi Gupta Gallery represents Gates (Chicago and Berlin). See more images at the gallery website…
There is a lot of buzz about Theaster Gates.
Read an article titled Theaster Gates in the Studio with Lilly Wei (Art in America, December 2011).
Lilly Wei is a New York-based writer and independent curator.
Thanks for reading and your comments.
June 20, 2011
I am a great fan of Calvin Tomkins who writes brilliantly about contemporary art and artists.
His book LIVES of the ARTISTS includes in-depth profiles of Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Matthew Barney, Cindy Sherman, Richard Serra and others.
The book is exciting to read, filled with personal information and critical insight, and would be appealing to everyone who is interested in art and artists.
Tomkins writes: contemporary art is all about choices.
I’m a collage artist. Collage is the most contemporary art medium, accessible to everyone. Collage is all about choices.
I got a phone call from Stephen McKenzie, the manager of Adult Education in the Visual Arts at the Newark Museum (Newark, NJ). He asked me to lead a mini collage workshop this past Saturday for museum members.
I chose to say yes.
I wanted the opportunity to promote two upcoming workshops, and, as always, to promote creativity through collage.
In May I did a very successful workshop titled Possibilities with Paper at the Museum. I am scheduled to teach Possibilities with Paper 2 and 3 in August and in October. There are so many possibilities. Collage is the perfect contemporary media.
The Newark Museum Mini Collage Workshop
I gave a lot of thought to what the Newark Museum mini workshop would include, and wanted to offer a project that would encourage looking and promote understanding visually.
Here are some of the possible mini workshop themes I considered:
Possibilities with Paper
Project: Create variations in papers for collage
Create texture with paint and tools
Combine elements and explore design
Repurpose papers for collage
I will teach Possibilities with Paper 2 at the Newark Museum on August 7, 2011, and will teach possibilities with Paper 3 at the Newark Museum on October 30, 2011. See more information about the 2 workshops.
Project: discover a personal color palette
Explore rich saturated colors in watercolor and pastel
Play with variations in hue, value and chroma
Select magazine images in related colors
Explore complementary colors
I will teach a Colorful Collage workshop on July 17 at the Pelham Art Center.
The Art of Romare Bearden
Project: explore collage as layered imagery
Explore variation in scale
Design with geometric and curved shapes
Play with pattern, surface and line
Last year I taught 2 workshops at the Newark Museum inspired by Romare Bearden. One was titled Caribbean Landscape. Another was titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage. Each full-day workshop is 6 hours – long enough to complete a collage.
A Question of Time
The two mini workshops would each last 90 minutes so the project had to be simple and not take too long to complete. I wanted everyone to be able to start quickly and have enough time to finish.
My top choice was Romare Bearden because this is a special year (the centennial of his birth) and many museums and galleries are honoring him with retrospective exhibitions (including the recent show at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery on West 57 Street in New York City). The exhibition closed May 21, 2011.
See works by Romare Bearden online at the Michael Rosenfeld gallery website.
I wanted people to see and understand how Bearden constructed his collage images. But I was also concerned that it would require more time than was available.
Serendipity and the art of Jean Dubuffet
The day before the scheduled workshop, I discovered an image by Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985) with a fabulous, provocative quote – it was guaranteed to stimulate and inspire. Here’s the quote:
“What I expect from any work of art is that it surprises me, that it violates my customary valuations of things and offers me other, unexpected ones.
Art doesn’t go to sleep in the bed made for it. It would sooner run away than say its own name: what it likes is to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what its own name is.
Personally, I believe very much in values of savagery. I mean: instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness.”
The image above is titled Sylvain. It’s 10×6 inches. It’s a collage made with insect wings.
This is how I organized the Museum mini workshop project:
Provide 12×12 inch construction paper in a deep hue
Provide a free-form profile drawing on 9×12 yellow paper
Provide magazine images of faces, eyes and mouths
Supply scissors, markers, glue, seam rollers and squeegee
Supply magazines for additional collage papers
Everyone got a color copy of the Dubuffet image and the quote.
I read the quote aloud.
I discussed how the image was constructed with insect wings – and also pointed out that there was an eye and teeth that could be on top or below the other papers.
Everyone was instructed to cut out the profile drawing and either trace or glue the drawing onto the larger sheet (and they got to choose where to place it). I did a demonstration on how to apply the glue. I suggested that they notice how Dubuffet limited the range of colors and try to select papers in a similar tonal range.
The rest was up to them. They chose how to proceed and what images, patterns and colors to include.
See samples of their work below. Notice how each one is unique.
I was attracted to Dubuffet’s quote and art and connected both back to a comment by Calvin Tomkins in LIVES OF THE ARTISTS. He described Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst – contemporary art stars – as the reigning heirs of deliberately outrageous art that feeds off the corrupting influences of capitalist glut and entertainment.
Dubuffet called his work Art Brut. He created with common media. His art was not high brow and he created deliberately outrageous art.
See Damien Hirst’s butterfly winged art (done in 2003), and read the review.
Thanks for reading. Please add your comments below.
Collage artists typically work with appropriated images (on-line and print).
I recently wrote about ON LINE: Drawing Through the 20th Century at the Museum of Modern Art (the show closed Feb 7, 2011) – and talked about Paul Klee’s reverse drawings in the exhibition. I make reverse drawings and understand the process.
I was so inspired by all the lines, I immediately made a collage with line drawings. But I didn’t make the lines.
The drawings are small, appropriated papers – reproductions from periodicals like Artforum Magazine. I found the papers and put them together. I like the lines. Everything is very graphic. But they aren’t my lines, and I can do my own.
All collage artists are concerned with copyright infringement, what they can take and how they can use it. Some things are too easy and you shouldn’t use other peoples images.
I tell students in my collage workshops to add papers and paint and embellish found papers to make the images their own (and advise them to take their own photos in related setups if they want to work with photocollage).
Some artists make it a point to use appropriated images. That’s their niche.
Read about the claims and counterclaims of two hot recent copyright infringement headliners - Shepard Fairey and the AP, and Richard Prince and Gagosian Gallery.
The image above shows a section of a grid with papers, and lines that are straight, curve, criss-cross, and scribble. Can you see any famous artist’s work?
I put the blocks together, and added 2 or 3 smaller papers to modify each block, then put everything on a painted green background (substrate). The individual blocks very in size from 2 1/2 x 3 inches to 3 x 3 1/2 inches.
I like the variety, but decided I don’t like the idea that the lines aren’t mine.
Paul Klee did reverse drawings. Two were included in the MoMA exhibition and both are in the MoMA collection.
The first drawing is titled The Angler (1921) It’s oil transfer, watercolor and ink on paper with watercolor and ink borders on board and is 19 7/8 x 12 ½ inches.
The second drawing (see it nearby) is titled Twittering Machine (1922). It’s oil transfer, watercolor and ink on paper with gouache and ink borders on board and is 25 ¼ x 19 inches.
MAKE A REVERSE DRAWING
You can do a reverse drawing and nobody will know it’s a drawing because the drawing is on the back of the paper. The front (the reverse) looks like an etching. You’ll get a very interesting line.
Materials are basic: You’ll need paper, oil paint (or oil-based printing ink), a disposable paper palette, a metal palette knife, a print brayer and some mark-making tools like pencils, a ballpoint pen, and a wooden spoon.
The media has to be oil, not acrylic or water-based inks because only oil will stay moist long enough to do the transfer drawing.
Other materials you will need: drawing or printmaking papers cut to the size you want.
To start, squeeze a small amount of paint or ink on the disposable palette and spread it across the palette in a simple line. Work with the print brayer to create a smooth film of paint or ink over a large area of the paper palette (or spread the media with the palette knife).
Use any color oil paint or oil-based ink you want. I like brown, black and green.
After the color is spread on the palette, lay a clean piece of paper carefully on top. Don’t press it down. Don’t touch it or your fingerprints will show on the reverse side.
Your paper can be smaller than the paper palette and smaller than the ink or paint you’ve spread, or it can be as large as the paper palette (or even hang beyond it).
Have fun drawing with a pencil, pen or another mark-making tool. See how gently or how hard you need to press down to get the line transfer you want. The image will be in reverse. You may even like the image backward.
Some of your reverse drawings will be winners, and like Paul Klee you can add watercolor paint, ink crayons or pastel. Some of your reverse drawings will be less than perfect, but ideal papers for collage.
Try to write backwards in your reverse drawings. Try to do the drawing without a pen or pencil so you don’t see the lines as you are making them. Surprise yourself.
If you want to write text you can read, write it backwards, so it will read forward on the reverse side. Or write your words on tracing paper first and flip the paper over, then look at it in reverse as you do the reverse drawing.
You can look at a drawings when you do the reverse drawing if you want to draw from something in front of you.
See my reverse drawing faces at my website. I did variations of a single drawing by changing the speed and direction of the lines I made. I also changed the amount of oil paint on the paper palette (some thicker, some thinner), and changed the pencil or pen.
SERENDIPITY and MORE POSSIBILITIES: a WORK in PROGRESS
I just made reverse drawings of lines on small pieces of printmaking paper for a new collage. I placed the drawings in a grid of 3 across and 4 down, then reorganized them into a larger grid.
When the grid was enlarged, almost all the pieces needed to be adjusted.
Some of the drawings were too bold. Some were too busy. As individuals they were good, but in a group they were competitive and had to be toned down. So I added layers of oil paint to some to make a few lighter and others darker.
I added a little yellow to warm up the white and black. It made grey green. Then I needed to add a vibrant green to add punch.
I put the pieces on a large beautiful sheet of printmaking paper – ready to collage. It’s not yet glued down. So it might change before it’s finished.
In collage, things move (even a little) as you lift them up, turn them over, coat them with glue, lift them back up, and, finally, place then down on the substrate. I call it serendipity.
Are you ready to draw?
Please let me know if you need more information about reverse drawing. Thanks for sharing your comments.
February 28, 2011
WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?
I worked on a new collage the other night and didn’t finish it until almost 2 am – I was determined to put all the pieces together and not leave it for the next day. Reason: take a break and it all changes. Your thoughts are transient. So it’s important to finish everything in one session or accept the fact that the work (the ideas) will change.
Does this happen to you?
My “Line” is making collage. The collage (seen above) is titled “Drawing the Line.” It’s 14×11 inches, with various papers, acrylic paint, mounted on smooth Bristol paper (2011). When the last piece was glued down, I stood the collage up against a tall object and looked to see if it needed new pieces (HINT: it’s good to see your work vertical after you’ve worked on it flat and horizontal).
I liked what I saw (lucky me) and was amazed at how much the collage looked like a drawing. That was not my plan. How did that happen? (See below)
PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY
I’ve been thinking a lot about two recent exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC. The first show was titled On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century (November 21, 2010-February 7, 2011), and the second show is titled Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 (Feb. 13 – June 6, 2011).
I wrote about the two exhibitions – Drawing is Collage/Collage is Drawing – commenting that Picasso’s collages looked more dimensional in the second exhibition.
Images online and images in the very excellent exhibition catalog (Picassos Guitars 1912-1914) never do justice to the works. It’s worth a trip to NYC before the show closes June 6th to see this exhibition in person at the Museum of Modern Art.
Picasso’s papery guitars were revolutionary in concept in 1912 and the collages were experimental departures from the traditional picture plane. Picasso was blazing a trail.
Holland Cotter reviewed the exhibition on February 10, 2011 in The NY Times (Picasso Guitars: Art & Design: When Picasso Changed His Tune). He wrote: Today, nearly a century on, it’s hard to grasp how disturbing such work was to some at the time…It was perceived as a slap in the face to beauty, idealism and decorum, proof of European culture on the slide…People got angry.
I was amazed to see Picasso used straight pins. The papers are pierced and puckered. You can see shadows at the edges of the papers that are pinned. The image above (Musical Score and Guitar, 1913) is cut, pasted and pinned colored paper, sheet music, and paper and charcoal on colored papers, 15 3/4 x 18 7/8 inches.
The image above, an installation view with 2 people looking at Picasso’s Bar Table with Guitar (1913), cut and pinned wallpaper and colored paper and chalk on colored paper 24 3/8 x 15 3/8 inches shows how the papers are puckered.
Why did Picasso use pins? Pins allowed him to position and reposition works in progress.
Memories stick (like pins), and influence you, and you may not even be aware of it until you step back and see how you are influenced.
Lines are everywhere. I see TV commercials with lines in motion. Today’s skyline was filled with lines. I didn’t plan in advance, but my mostly black and white collage is on a green background (a page from a magazine I painted with a mix of green acrylic paint).
The green is the color of early spring grass and buds, and a harbinger of warm weather to come. It seemed a perfect fit as we transition from winter to spring.
If you want, see more drawings with collage – 16 works titled Strata – at my website.
I hope you will add comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas.
February 13, 2011
I was in Manhattan in NYC, a week ago Friday, had an hour to spare before meeting friends uptown at the Studio Museum in Harlem to see Mark Bradford’s collages. There was just enough time to visit the Museum of Modern Art. I had to do it.
The MoMA exhibition “On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century” was going to close the following Monday, February 7th. All my artist friends said You Must See this Exhibition. It’s not just about lines and drawing. It’s also about collage.
There was a weather forecast for more snow, so an extra hour might be all the opportunity I would have to see the show before it closed.
As I entered the 6th floor exhibition gallery, there was a small crowd gathered, listening to a docent in front of the first three works in the exhibition – all by Pablo Picasso – all titled Guitar – one a collage, one an assemblage, one a charcoal line drawing – all done in 1913 and 1914.
The collage, seen nearby, titled Guitar, is cut and pasted paper, printed paper, charcoal, ink and chalk on colored paper on board (1913), 26×19 inches.
I heard the docent say: Picasso used line to emphasize the flatness of the surface. She continued: notice the charcoal he used to outline the papers in the collage.
In 1912, Picasso was inspired by movement in space, by dance and motion pictures. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso invented Cubism and modern collage to explore those ideas.
Paul Klee said: A drawing is simply a line going for a walk
On Monday, the same day the exhibition was due to close, I came back with Bette, a dear friend whose field is interior design. We celebrated her birthday at MoMA. It was great fun to share comments about the individual art works as we walked through the exhibition.
The image nearby is titled Der Angler (the Angler) 1921. It’s an oil transfer drawing, watercolor and ink on paper with watercolor and ink borders on board 19 7/8 x 12 1/2 inches.
I explained to Bette how a reverse drawing is made: Basically the artist draws from the back onto a sheet of paper that is face down on a surface coated with a thin layer of oil paint or print ink. The line that is transferred to the front of the paper is the impression made with a fine pencil or pen.
After the oil paint dried, Klee added ink and other media.
As Bette and I walked through the exhibition galleries, I asked myself: What makes each work in this show a drawing? Why is it included? What media makes the line?
I looked at the works in terms of how each artist explored the line in two or three dimensions. We saw the line extended beyond the canvas. I was intrigued by work by Robert Ryman (American, born 1930) titled Impex, an unstretched linen canvas stapled to the wall with a a blue chalk line drawn from the top right edge up to the ceiling.
We saw dimensional works and sculpture projecting forward from the wall (a stabile by Alexander Calder). We saw sculpture that looked like lines in space hanging from the ceiling.
There was free standing sculpture on the floor, including Cube (9x9x9 feet), black finished steel (2008) by Mona Hatoum (born Beirut, Lebanon, 1952).
We saw loose undulating lines in colored pencil on cardboard, 1940 by Sophie Taeuber Arp. I prefer taut lines. Bette commented: Loose Ends.
I purchased the exhibition catalog for my collage library collection. It has excellent essays on the concept behind OnLine. You can see On Line online. You’ll almost feel you are seeing the show because there are so many images and links to video and excellent text about the show.
My Favorite artist’s and their drawings in the show are by Pablo Picasso (Spanish 1881-1973), Hans (Jean) Arp (French, born Germany 1886-1966, Paul Klee (German, born Switzerland 1879-1940), Atsugo Tanaka (Japanese, 1932-2005), Eva Hesse (American, born Germany 1936-1970), and Lucio Fontana (Argentine 1899-1968).
The image nearby is by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), titled “Spatial Concept: Expectations (1959) and is synthetic polymer paint on slashed burlap, 39×32 inches.
Inspired by Futurism, Fontana wanted to escape the “prison” of the flat picture surface and explore movement, time, and space. Starting in 1949, he punctured and pierced the surfaces of sheets of paper to reach behind to what he called “a free space.” In the late 1950s Fontana began to slash linear cuts into stretched canvases.
Catherine de Zegher wrote an essay for the exhibition catalog: Drawing is characterized by a line that is always unfolding, always becoming. Drawing is understood as an open-ended activity. The exhibition explores surface tension, the line broken free from the surface.
She adds: The history that informs the exhibition is interpreted here as an interweaving of materials, records, and the requirements of a changing present. The reading inevitably reflects notions of interconnection (as on the Web) and interdependency in a new globalized society. She wrote:
Thought has been linear and progressive.
It has evolved into a kind of network
More fluid, open, simultaneous and undefined.
The image nearby is by the Japanese artist Atsugo Tanaka (1932-2005). It’s a view of her performance Round on Sand (1956). She was also represented in the show with 2 works on paper done with India ink, ink pencil and crayon on paper – one a preparatory drawing and the other a drawing after her performance Electric Dress (1956).
The image nearby is a drawing by Atsugo Tanaka, titled Drawing After Electric Dress (India ink, ink, pencil and crayon on paper 30 5/16 x 21 5/8 inches, 1956)
It looks like a drawing. It is actually the plan for a performance.
Calvin Tomkins, in his excellent book LIVES of the ARTISTS, wrote: “The radical changes in art and society that were set in motion during the early years of the twentieth century gave rise to a new kind of artist…where
Art could be whatever artists decided it was, and there were no restrictions on the methods and materials – from video and verbal constructs to raw nature and urban detritus – that they could use…If art can be anything, where do you begin?
Begin with Picasso.
On February 10th, my friend Dale invited me to join her at the Museum of Modern Art Member’s preview to see Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914. The 3 Guitars from the OnLine show are now ensconced in the Guitar show. Because of the way the show is lighted, the works look even more dimensional. The show is exquisite.
The image nearby is Picasso’s Guitar (about 1913). It’s made with paperboard, paper, string, and painted wire installed with cut cardboard box, overall: 30 x 20 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches. Picasso gifted the work to the Museum of Modern Art.
See Holland Cotter’s exhibition review “When Picasso Changed His Tune” in the NY Times, (Friday, February 11, 2011).
The review opens: “It’s 1912 and Pablo Picasso is in Paris, thinking: All right, what’s next?”
Cotter writes: “piece by piece it’s entrancing. Taken as a whole it’s a record of a brief but intense revolution that generated some of the most challenging ideas in modern art.
I would love to hear what you think about drawing and, if you visited the MoMA exhibition, what you thought of the works and the artists in the show. Thank you for your comments.