I used the phrase “Collage Artist Extraordinaire” to describe Ivan Chermayeff in my review of the exhibition ABOUT FACES (March 20-April 19, 2014) at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery at 531 West 26 Street, in NYC. Read it here.

Pavel Zoubok says: no art form expresses the character of the twentieth century and the contemporary moment with greater clarity and immediacy than the art of collage. The Gallery is the place to go if you are a fan. The exhibition calendar includes both historic and contemporary collage artists. Read more here.

I’ve been a fan of Ivan Chermayeff’s collages for years and years, but only saw reproduction in art magazines. ABOUT FACES included collage and assemblage (sculpture). Each wood assemblage included found wood and objects like toys, tools, river stones, sandpaper, and/or brushes.  Two works included a found glove that became a face portrait.

 

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture at Pavel Zoubok Gallery

My photo (above) shows the gallery installation with 3 wood assemblages by Ivan Chermayeff. Titles are: (left) Janus Head with Canoe Hat, (center) Portrait with Pincushion Cap, and (right) Young Person with Hairless Brush Head. I’ve included solo images (two views) for each sculpture below. All images are courtesy the Pavel Zoubok Gallery. Sculpture should be seen in person, where you can walk around and see different views. The front and back are sometimes very different in Chermayeff’s assemblage.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

The image (above) is titled Janus Head with Canoe Hat (2000-2005), mixed-media assemblage, 23 ½ x 8 ½ x 8 ½ inches.  Click on the image and enlarge it to see more detail. Look at the nose. I think it looks like the handle on a coffee mug, big enough for you to put your hand through. Notice the hat is actually a little carved wood canoe. Notice the lips on the mouth are wood and painted red. Look at his expression. I think he looks grumpy or is sulking. Read whatever you like into his expression.

 

The image (below) is a profile view of the same sculpture, and, when you look up, you see the bottom of the canoe on his head. I think the wavy blue painted wood on the side is shaped like a child’s drawing of waves in the ocean. You don’t see the waves in the image above, but you can see the shape better in the image below.

Ivan Chermayeff, profile view of Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, profile view of Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

 

What’s in a name?

 

I checked Wikipedia for information about Janus – the ancient Roman god of doors, passages, endings and times (representing war and peace). FYI: The month of January is named for Janus. Janus is usually represented with two faces. I wonder if Chermayeff named his wood sculpture Janus because the sculpture includes part of an old wood door. Read more about the god Janus here.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker, collage

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker, collage

He collects garbage like crazy.

I include a collage (above) titled Red Talker, 15×11 inches (1995). Chermayeff says he collects garbage like crazy. According to the Gallery press release, his collages include the stuff of everyday life: scraps of paper, stamped envelopes, tickets, photographs and other discarded oddments that become juxtaposed compositions of color and form. Chermayeff says: “A little spot, whether a postage stamp, a graphic mark, a letter of the alphabet, a splash of color becomes a nose, an eye or a mouth. In the right place, more or less, it becomes a face…that is both recognizable and rewarding. When a face is there, it has its own reality, whether recognized or not, much like strangers passing in the street.”  Read Gallery comments here.

 

Notice the colors in Red Talker: black, white, red and a peachy-tan. The portrait is all torn and cut papers in geometric shapes: squares, rectangles, circles and triangles. He’s facing right, and wears a hat. He has a large white dot for an eye. His mouth is a torn red and white address sticker. See more gallery images here.

 

The image (below) is a front-facing view of Chermayeff’s mixed media assemblage titled Portrait with Pincushion Cap (2000-2005), 13 x 8 ½ x 3 inches. Notice the deep grain in the wood and how the artist used smooth round white river stones for eyes. The stones are different sizes.  The larger one faces vertical and the smaller one faces horizontal. The mouth is wood painted red. Ears appear on the side of the rectangular head as semi circles painted black. The pincushion cap (painted silver and blue) is another toy wood canoe sitting across the top of his head.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

 

The image (below) is the rear view of Portrait with Pincushion Cap. Click on the image to enlarge it. Notice the rough surface texture in the wood in this view. There’s a deep recess gouged into the wood. I see a different face. The eyes are still white river stones, but they look tiny. The mouth is part of a negative space so it looks like his mouth is open. The “nose” is a rosy red blobby shape stuck into the gouged surface. The ears are gone, replaced with a solid black band of wood with rounded ends and now looks like a hat. The toy wood canoe (pincushion) sits on top.  I think he looks like a drunken Russian sailor or an old Viking. It’s another Janus with two faces.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, another view, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, another view, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

 

Two images (below) are front and side views of the mixed media assemblage titled Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, 24 x 15 ½ x 4 ½ inches (2000-2005). Notice Chermayeff added wood dowels for this portrait’s 2 arms.  The Head is an irregular shaped rectangle. It’s an old hairless brush with 27 holes in 3 vertical rows.  There’s a painted red wood dowel planted across the top of his head and a painted red block projecting between his legs. The wood figure looks like he’s wearing cut-off pants. His feet are thin black metal rods that run down to a square metal base. What do you see? I see a portrait of a young boy. Do you think the sculpture is innocent and childlike?  I think maybe not.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

 

Ivan Chermayeff, side view of Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, side view of Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

 

Ivan Chermayeff’s fine art collages and assemblage sculptures have been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. His next exhibition will be in the UK. He is best known as a designer and illustrator. With Tom Geismar, he founded the design firm Chermayeff & Geismar (1957), and the logos they’ve designed are recognized worldwide.

FINAL THOUGHTS: See it in Person

 

In my previous post, I wrote you have to see Chermayeff’s assemblage sculpture in person and walk around to view the work from every angle.  I hope the additional images here gave you more information. Please add your comments below. Do you like this artist’s mixed media assemblage? Do you prefer the collages? Do you think assemblage is 3D collage?

 

 

About Ivan Chermayeff

April 30, 2014

 

ABOUT FACE – Amazing Unique Collage and Assemblage Sculpture

 

Collage enthusiasts – if you want to see important contemporary and historic collage, and also want to see assemblage and mixed media installation, go to the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea, 531 West 26 Street, NYC. . Every month the gallery showcases artists who explore and extend the boundaries of these media.  See more information about the gallery here.

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture installation

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture installation

I went to the gallery to see collages by Ivan Chermayeff. I’ve been a fan of this artist’s work for years.  The exhibition (March 20-April 19, 2014) also included his wood assemblage. My image above shows the gallery installation of 3 Chermayeff wood sculptures on white pedestals. It also shows framed collage portraits installed on the rear wall.

 

This is collage sculpture. Notice the work is assembled with pieces of found, carved and painted wood. Chermayeff juxtaposes old materials and objects like toys, tools, river stones, sandpaper, and brushes to create heads and torsos. Each sculpture (like each collage) has a unique personality. Notice the 2 figures and face are embellished with painted wood in red, white and blue for eyes, noses, lips, ears, hats and anatomical parts. Sorry you can’t walk around the sculpture to see them in person.

 

I love the tall sculpture on the left in the photo. He has a protruding wood nose that reminds me of a handle on a big coffee mug. His lips are pressed together, and almost touching his nose. You can read whatever you like into his expression. That’s what makes the sculpture so interesting.

 

DowntownMagazineNYC reviewed the exhibition that showcased works by Ivan Chermayeff (b 1931, London, UK) and photocollage by Witold Gordon (b. Warsaw, Poland, 1885-1968). In the review, Xavi Ocana wrote (March 20, 2014): Chermayeff has the ability to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary, a perfect equation of the playful plus the poetic. Read the exhibition review here.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Boy with Sam's Hand

Ivan Chermayeff, Boy with Sam’s Hand

The image above is titled BOY WITH SAM’S HAND, collage, 30×22 (1999). Notice the figure is made from an old corrugated cardboard box that is opened flat. Chermayeff kept the original cancelled stamps and brown tape on the cardboard. The red stamps are now Sam’s eyes.  One of the blue mailing labels is his nose. There’s a black line in exactly the right place for a mouth. Chermayeff added cut black paper for shoulders, and pink semi-circles for ears. Notice the painted child’s handprint. That must be Sam’s “signature.”

 

SMILE and LOOK CLOSE

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Girl

Ivan Chermayeff, Girl

The image above is titled GIRL (2000), collage, 14 x 11 inches.  It’s so simple and so very clever and witty. The shapes are dots, semi-circles and rectangles. The girl’s face is a grey paper rectangle and her eyes are round grey dots. See the gold and blue cut papers – semi-circles that are ears and a hat.

 

Notice her blue dress. It’s the same crayon blue paper as the “hat” and reveals a photo of deep cleavage showing through the V neckline in the dress. What a girl! The best part – her “mouth” is actually a photo of an eyelash. At first glance, you see a curved black line. It’s a happy-face smile. Then you notice it’s a fringe of eyelash in a closed eye. Very demure. How witty! My reaction: it’s a Mona Lisa smile. What is she hiding?

 

He collects garbage like crazy

 

In interviews, Chermayeff admits he has drawers full of old envelopes and postage stamps, and recycles gloves people drop and leave behind. His approach to collage is spontaneous. He says. “What I’m playing with is making new visual connections. That’s what my collages are all about.” Chermayeff’s people are made from letterheads and labels, pebbles and Polaroid prints and stuff from the office recycling bin. The craftsmanship is meticulous, pristine and clean. They are not garbage.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker

The image above is titled Red Talker, collage, 15×11 inches, 1995. Notice the colors: black, white, red and a peachy-tan. The portrait is all torn and cut papers in geometric shapes: squares, rectangles, circles and triangles. The portrait is facing right, and wears a hat. He has a large white dot for an eye.

 

Notice some papers have tiny punched holes and show the white through. One collage paper is a printed bullseye with black concentric circles on a peachy tan background. There are multiple tiny holes punched in a horizontal line marching across the bullseye to meet a larger white dot in the outer black circle. See more punched holes in the red paper rectangle touching the bullseye paper. Notice the mouth is a torn red and white business form – probably a mailing label.

 

Did You Know?

Ivan Chermayeff is world famous as a designer and cofounder (1957) of the firm Chermayeff & Geismar, that produced the iconic logos we all know: NBC, PBS, CBS, Mobile Oil, Chase Manhattan Bank, National Geographic, the Museum of Modern Art and more. He graduated from Yale University and began his career designing book covers and album covers. He is most famous for his logos, but also does collage and has exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world.

 

PBS Brand logo designed in 1983 by Chermayeff & Geismar, Inc.

PBS Brand logo designed in 1983 by Chermayeff & Geismar, Inc.

The image above is the PBS logo (Public Broadcasting System) the firm designed in 1983. Image: courtesy Pinterest

 

According to artsy.net, Chermayeff (born 1932, London, UK) is an artist who rotates through multiple media. His strength as a designer and illustrator are equally present in his collage and printmaking media. They say, the works are ingenious and complex even though they look simple. Read more here.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ivan Chermayeff says “collages make it possible for everything to be something else.” That’s the essence of our contemporary lives.

 

I talked to Pavel Zoubok at the gallery and learned so much about the artist and the art works. It was a great opportunity to speak with an expert. Zoubok is a passionate advocate for collage and has devoted his career to promoting this genre. Here’s a quote: Zoubok says we live in a cut and paste world. Isn’t that the essence of contemporary life? That is the essence of collage. Zoubok also believes collage is manifest in the digital culture that is transforming our society. I absolutely agree.

 

Tell me what you think.

 

 

 

 

What Did You Do In 2012?

January 11, 2013

I subscribe to Alyson B Stanfield’s artbizblog.

The December 19, 2012 post at Art Biz Blog, titled Year End Review  opens with:

You probably did more in 2012 that you are giving yourself credit for.

I immediately followed Stanfield’s suggestion to take time and outline my own accomplishments for the year 2012.

It was a wonderful exercise, both supportive (I got to see that I accomplished goals I set) and encouraging (I got to put in writing my goals for 2013).

Categories in the year-end review include:

How did you promote your art and what did you do to enhance your online presence? (Marketing Triumphs)

How did you strategize and track your growth, what books did you read to help your career, what grants/honors/awards did you receive (Business Growth)

Creative Challenges (how did you improve your studio habits)

Personal Happiness

Nancy Nikkal at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012

Nancy Nikkal at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012

Getting to see contemporary art in a setting like Art Basel Miami Beach makes me happy. I was there for 5 days December 4-8, 2012.

It’s an incredible experience, because the art you see ranges from museum quality blue chip art – to independent fine art dealer’s inventory from every country – to experimental and funky art that surely expands our understanding of what contemporary art is and can be. You get to see it all at Art Basel Miami. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with artists, gallery people (who were very friendly and accessible), and collectors. I attended programs, openings and free events. It was non-stop.

In the image above, I am standing in front of what I call a dimensional collage.  The image was taken at one of the large art fairs. The image is courtesy of Mary Hunter (my artist friend who met me in Miami, FL for 5 days to see all the shows).  I will write about the fairs, the program Conversations (with artist Richard Tuttle in dialog with Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, London), and a visit to the Rubell Family Collection in upcoming blogs.

The final category in the Year End Review at Art Biz Blog was:

What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2012?

I will write about that in an upcoming blog. Hint: it was a huge undertaking and it was worth it.

I recommend you do your own Year-End Review at the Art Biz blog site.

Here’s a link to a pdf with more career advice especially for artists that includes:

Fail-Proof Business Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach

Top 10 Marketing Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach

I include the final 5 here because they are so important. I think you will agree.

(5) Start blogging: Write regularly and consistently. My goal in 2013 is to write blogs about collage that will become content for a book. Alyson Stanfield recommends artists blog about their art to establish their credentials as an expert. That sounds good to me (no matter what the subject)  – because it helps you understand your subject in a deeper way, and the blog provides a place for dialogue with your fans, and makes you more search-engine friendly.

(4) Find ways to get your work out there. It’s critical for you to exhibit your art.

(3) Find ways to communicate about your art. Words can connect your art to more art viewers.

(2) Your contact list is your most valuable asset (keep it current and active).

(1) Get into the studio and make art!

I have a copy of Stanfield’s book I’d rather be in the studio.  It’s an excellent book that is perfectly titled for the dilemma studio artists face – because we are always juggling studio time (what we want to do and where we want to be) with the need to devote time to being out of the studio (marketing, seeing art at museums and openings, networking, writing, updating career and contact information, etc.).

New Goal: In 2013, I plan to send out my newsletter Notes from the Studio more regularly. Its focus will change and be more about what I do in the studio (maybe show works in progress), about juggling time, marketing triumphs, and improving social media skills.  I will always include links to my blog Art of Collage because my studio practice is collage and I teach collage classes and workshops. They are always related. My studio practice keeps my life centered. I teach collage because my purpose is to help people enrich their lives with art (and through making art).  I hope you will sign up to receive the news.

Thank you for reading this post. Let me know how you did in 2012.

Last weekend I visited the Studio Museum in Harlem to see the exhibition Bearden 100, a centennial tribute to the great 20th century artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). What I saw was the 3rd and final installment of Bearden 100. It closes October 21, 2012.

I promised to write about the Bearden 100 exhibition in a previous blog about a Bearden workshop I lead on August 5, 2012 at the Newark Museum titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage – inspired by the artist Romare Bearden.

The workshop was offered in conjunction with the exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections at the Newark Museum (closed August 19, 2012).

Romare Bearden, Conjur Woman, 1964

The image above is by Romare Bearden and titled Conjur Woman. It was completed in 1964. It’s only 9×7 inches, and was created with snippets from newspapers and magazines such as Ebony and the Saturday Evening Post.

Bearden turned his tiny collage into a huge black and white print (called a Photostat). The Newark Museum had small works and large prints on display. The large black and white Conjur Woman Photostat is in the collection of the Studio Museum.

Read more about the meaning of the Conjur Woman and more about my workshops.

22 ARTISTS AT THE STUDEO MUSEUM IN HARLEM

Here’s a link to see images of the 22 works at the Museum. The link is from the Bearden Foundation.

I was drawn to several works.

One was a figure by Elia Alba titled Portrait of a Young Girl, 2012 (see the image below).

Elia Alba, Portrait of a Young Girl, 2012

It’s a 3D figure in a prayer-like pose.  She wrote: It wasn’t just Bearden’s collage, but his merging of cultural and artistic practices that left the strongest impression on me.

I really liked a collage by Noah Davis titled The Frogs (2011) seen below.

Noah Davis, The Frogs, 2011

 

It looks like collage with many magazine papers and fractured faces (it’s definitely inspired by Bearden media and technique).

I was drawn to a mixed media 3D work by Xenobia Bailey, titled Endless Love: Conjur Kit, 2012 (see below).

Xenobia Bailey, Endless Love: Conjure Kit

I love the fact that the artist named her work Conure Kit – maybe she is inspired by all the Conjur Women in Bearden’s oeuvre.

The artist wrote: I love the continuum that his (Bearden’s) collages have to African-American quilt-makers and musicians. Mr. Bearden constructs everything in his artwork as if he is patching together the idea of the New African in North America.

BEARDEN 100

Visit the website for the Bearden 100 show. See works by Bearden and see works by artists in the 3 shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

See #66: Bearden, In the Garden 1974 (image below). It includes red striped fabric on a figure, and abraded painted papers.

Romare Bearden, In the Garden, 1974

The Bearden image was selected by Tanekeya Word, a visual artist living in NYC.

See her mixed media work (below) titled Pretty Dope-a-licious Cameo #11, acrylic paint, gouache, watercolor, acrylic ink, gold leaf, embroidery, floss, pastels, latex  paint on watercolor paper, 2012.

Tanekeya Word, Pretty Dope-a-licious Cameo #11

Willie Cole selected the collage by Bearden, #57 Gospel Song 1969 (below) It includes multiple pieces of abraded papers, a gray background, and shows what Bearden did to his media to create unique surface texture. It also shows how he used pieces of papers to create a sense of dimension, texture, and rhythm.

Romare Bearden, Gospel Song, 1969

Willie Cole, a Newark, NJ artist, said he selected this work because it sang to him when he saw it.

See his work tiled Sole to Sole (below). Cole works with found media and creates/constructs metaphor about race in prints, sculpture and other media.

Willie Cole, Sole to Sole

Cole describes himself: Today I am a Perceptual Engineer.  I create new ways of seeing old things. and by doing so  inspire new ways of thinking.  I’ve also been described as an Ecological Mechanic, a Sacred Clown, a Transformer, the hardest working man in Shoe Business, The Original Iron Man, formerly known as the Dog Man, and once known as Vincent Van Black.

Willie Cole is one of my favorite contemporary artists.

More BEARDEN 100

The Studio Museum plans to extend the Bearden Project. They say:

The site will be frequently updated with new participating artists, sharing their story of inspiration and will include a high-resolution image of their artwork. We hope you’ll share your own artwork, stories, and comments with us by email.

Read more…

Romare Bearden was involved in founding The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Cinque Gallery (initially funded by the Ford Foundation). Bearden and 2 other artists – Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow – established Cinque to support younger minority artists.

Bearden helped found the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1970. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972.

He is recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th Century. He worked in many different media, including painting and printmaking, but is best known for his richly textured collages

Maps in Collage

October 11, 2012

On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 23, 2012 I led a multi-age workshop at the Pelham Art Center. It was map-themed art-making for kids, teens and adults held in connection with the current exhibition titled Anywhere But Here.

The exhibition (September 14-October 27, 2012) includes 15 artists whose works interpret their world through maps and cartography.

Below is an image of a work in the exhibition by Dahlia Elsayed, titled Conjuring, Willing, Napping, 2011, acrylic on paper, 29×40 inches (image, courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

Dahlia Elsayed, Conjuring, Willing, Napping

Read more and see more images of works in the exhibition.

I am always pleased when I’m asked to lead a workshop in connection with an exhibition. I try to develop a project that relates to the exhibition theme that can be completed by kids and adults in the time allotted.

Sample Collage

I create a sample work that is meant to inspire the kids and adults in the workshop. I don’t expect them to duplicate the sample, and most times they create unique works, once they get engaged in their own art-making.

The image below was taken in the early part of the workshop (the numbers grew as more adults and children arrived). You can see the sample collage I made for the kids – A Map of My Day – on the table in front of everyone.

The collage workshop

I supplied all the dot papers and colored construction papers.  I cut the papers into strips before the workshop so everyone could begin to place papers and glue quickly.  The children loved the colored papers with dots and played with different ways to join the dot strips into unique dot patterns. They added cut magazine papers and drawing.

Collage Using Maps

In the image (below), a woman is cutting into a map (The Pelham Art Center supplied maps). I am standing in the rear at the end of the table. Many of the adults wanted to create a collage with an actual map.

map cutting at the workshop

In the photo, the boy next to me is drawing a map on brown paper. He and his brother wanted to draw maps – the older one wanted to draw a map of the world; his younger brother wanted to draw a map of Belgium. They were born in Belgium. Their father, not seen in the image, wanted to design a map of the American flag.

You see how independent everyone is.

Another adult in the workshop, an architect, was inspired by a work in the exhibition and wanted to cut a delicate pattern into a map. She created a fretwork pattern – a lacy design – that I believe was inspired by one of the works in the exhibition.

Below is one image that probably inspired her work. Its by Robbin Ami Silverberg and is titled Manhattan in Gold, 2012, MTA map, 25 karat gold leaf, 11×34 inches, edition of 5 (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

Robbin Ami Silverberg, Manhattan in Gold

The image below, by Cal Lane, is titled Topo Map #5, 2011, Plasm-cut oil cans, 3.6 x 3.5 feet, courtesy of Art Mur, a gallery in Montreal.

Cal Lane, Topo Map #5

Many contemporary collages are open-work, cut papers that look like fretwork. Many are installed as 3D assemblages. Fretwork is typically done in wood and metal, and is often  used to decorate architecture.

How I develop ideas for a workshop

I always visit the exhibition before the workshop, and see the works and notice what is also collage.  I am inspired by bold colors, texture and layering.

I liked the colors I saw in the galleries and was reminded of an image in a book I have. It’s titled You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (by Katharine Harmon, Princeton Architectural Press, New York).

I prepared a sample collage to bring to the workshop, based on an image in that book.

I used papers I prepared in advance for the workshop – strips of colorful construction paper and photocopied polka-dot paper that I cut into several different widths that the kids could organize and embellish and glue down with glue sticks.

I assumed most of the participants at the workshop would be kids. I prepared papers that would appeal to kids. I hoped they would add their own drawing to the construction papers and be inspired by the drawings in the exhibition.

Below is an image by George Ferrandi, titled Recalibration Drawing #5 (poorly handled) 2012, pen on paper, masking tape, 20×25.5 inches, image courtesy the Pelham Art Center.

George Ferrandi, Recalibration Drawing #5

Below is another image taken at the workshop that shows the adults and kids and the table covered with papers and magazines. Everyone is busy cutting and pasting.

Colors, stripes and dots

Below is one of my favorite works in the show – titled Beneath the Rain, it’s by Tomoko Abe. It’s an installation, of handmade burnt Abaca paper, cast porcelain and resin hanging from the ceiling with light and imagery projected through to the back wall, that creates amazing light patterns. The installation is 68×46 inches (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

The exhibition Anywhere But Here is worth a trip to the Pelham Art Center if you are in New York. The works in the show are bold and beautiful, intriguing and elegant.

Tomoko Abe, Beneath the Rain II, 2011

It was an interesting experience for me to have a workshop with such a range of ages and focus going on – all at the same time during the 2 hour session. I hope everyone felt they were actively engaged in their own  map-making process.

Printmaking for Collage

September 13, 2012

When I started making collage more than 25 years ago, I liked to use cut-outs from magazines.

I never had enough papers with the right images and it took a really long time to collect the papers I wanted.

I always needed more papers. So I added handmade and decorated imported papers to the magazine cut-out papers.

Handmade papers can be very expensive. I didn’t want to use junk papers. I love saturated color and texture and pattern, and that usually costs more.

I started to paint magazine papers with acrylic paints. The bigger and fatter the magazine, the better. Heavy body acrylics are the kind I like. I also work with “open” acrylic paints  because they stay wet longer.

Recently I created printed papers for collage and used the open acrylics. It was an experiment. It didn’t work.

Open acrylics work so well for painted papers, but I don’t like the way the paints transfer image and color when it’s a print. It’s not as rich as printmaking with oil and water-based inks. The acrylic colors are flat and dull when the paint is transferred to the paper.

Exploring Printmaking with Intaglio Inks and Oil Paints

I tried printmaking with Akua intaglio inks. I like the way the inks transfer pattern and color. I love the mellow surface.

The image below is a sample of the papers created with the Akua Intaglio inks. I will use these papers for collage.

printed papers made with Akua intaglio inks

I was able to get transparencies and also texture.

Read more about how to work with the Akua intaglio inks.

Oil Paints for a Collagraph Print Collage

The image below is a sample of the papers I created with oil paints. This was a lot of fun. I used a palette knife to apply oil paint directly onto brown supermarket bags cut into small pieces. I laid the painted papers face up onto a Plexiglas plate and placed a dry piece of printmaking paper on top and ran the print through the press.

What you see below is not the print. These are the papers that were inked with oil paint and used to make the print.

printed papers made with oil paint

I said the printmaking process was “collagraph.”  In this process, I ink the papers with oil paint and place them onto the print plate and transfer the paint from the loose papers.

Typically, when you make a collagraph, you build up the surface of the plate with texture by brushing on acrylic mediums, or gluing down textured papers, silk fabric, or even painting with glue. After the media is dry, you ink and wipe the plate, place the printmaking paper on top and run it through the press.

The Print Parts Became a Whole Collage

I didn ‘t like my collagraph at all. The painted papers  didn’t transfer the the paint the way I wanted them to, probably because the painted papers were in two layers. The transferred image was too light.

But, I loved the way the papers looked, and decided to use them for collage.

I had to let them dry for 2 days.

I made 3 collages. See them below. 2 are glued to wood panels that are about 1 inch thick. One is glued to paper.

I will donate these to the Silvermine Arts Center for their benefit Signed Sealed & Delivered on Sunday, October 28, 2012. At Signed Sealed & Delivered, all of the works are 4×6 inches. Some of the works are 3D. All are for sale.

Read more about the benefit event at Silvermine Arts Center. See how the works are installed for the public to view and select. The works are by Silvermine Guild artists, faculty and well-known friends. The event will benefit Silvermine’s public programs.

The images below looks layered. Actually, the semi-transparent areas are where I removed a layer of paper.

collage, oil painted papers on paper, 4×6 inches

The image above is collage on paper.

The image below is collage on wood panel. Notice the strip of paper that looks orange and blue located near the bottom. That is actually the reverse side of the painted paper. It’s the supermarket bag side. I like the texture and mottled effect.

collage, oil paint papers on wood panel, 4×6 inches

collage, oil paint papers on wood panel, 4×6 inches

Paper is a huge category. Handmade papers can be very expensive.

There are many choices for paper collage that are not too expensive. You can use construction paper, sandpaper, copier paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, wallpaper, paper bags, junk mail, papers you collect (letters, postcards, receipts), photographs, and more.

You can use books and book covers.

Don’t throw anything away!

I often recycle papers, and use my own drawings, paintings and prints. Best, for me, is to create my own papers for collage.

Collage Exploded

September 6, 2012

I walked into the last gallery at the Whitney Museum by mistake. I was there to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. So I saw the last works first – large flat acrylic polymer paintings in flourescent colors – instead of the early small, intimate collages.

Kusama, Encounter with a Flowering Season

Yayoi Kusama is well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets. She is known for her work in various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation. The image above, seen at the Whitney Museum of American Art, is synthetic polymer on canvas, 51×52 inches. Image, courtesy the Internet.

I have never seen Yayoi Kusama’s works before. She was born in Japan in 1929 and came to the United States in 1957. She quickly became involved in avant-garde “happenings” and rose to prominence in the art world. She is considered a precursor of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements and influenced contemporary artists like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Read about her life and work

Yayoi Kusama in a red wig

Many of her early works were installation, performance, and ephemeral. Many disappeared.

She left the United States and returned to Japan in the early 1970s. Kusama is now acknowledged as one of the most important artists alive in Japan today.

Kusama, Late Night Chat is Filled with Dreams

My first impression of the dense painting installation was: Too many. Too busy. Too close – OVERLOAD.

The image above, titled Late Night Chat is Filled with Dreams, was in the first gallery I entered with all the recent paintings. It’s synthetic polymer on canvas, 64×64 inches and was completed in 2009. Image courtesy the Internet. The artist said she would like to finish 2000 paintings before she dies. This painting was about number 196.

 

Kusama, Mirror Room Pumpkin

The image above, titled Mirror Room-Pumpkin is an installation Kusama completed in 1991. It is made with mirrors wood and paint to create a dizzying effect. Kusama wanted the dots to appear to go on and on into infinity. The room is orange, like a pumpkin. It’s 69x69x69 inches. The work is now part of the permanent collection of the Hara Museum in Tokyo, Japan.

Kusama was the featured artist for the Japanese Pavilion at the 1993 Venice Bienniale. She produced a mirror room filled with pumpkin sculptures.

I walked through the galleries and saw a variety of different media, including an exploding chair sculpture (see below). The sculpture communicated a visceral, phallic, raw energy. It was soft and also sly. I liked it. It made me uneasy. It made me think of soft sculptures by Louise Bourgeois. Naughty.

Kusama, Accumulations

Continuing through the galleries, I saw psychedelic dotty installations. Kusama’s work is about dots.

Kusama, Air Mail Stickers

The image above is titled Air Mail Stickers (1962). It’s a large collage on canvas, 71×67 inches, in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The entire surface of the canvas is covered with hundreds of air mail stickers. Kusama had to lick each sticker to get it to stick to the canvas. When the collage was created, stamps were not self-adhesive like today. This work is included in the current exhibition. Photo courtesy the Internet.

Continuing on to the early works, I saw paintings, photo collage and collage. Everything was getting smaller and more intimate. The collages and photo collages were really wonderful. The image below is a small collage, titled Self Obliteration. There were many other collages and photo collages. Each one was a unique work, and was more narrative and less abstract that the later works.

Kusama, Self Obliteration

I didn’t get to see the installation Fireflies on the Water on the first level at the Whitney Museum (I was too late to get a ticket into the space). Fireflies (owned by the Whitney and included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial) uses water and mirrors to reflect 150 tiny hanging lights. Only one person is admitted into the installation at a time.

The exhibition will continue through September 30, 2012.

HOW DOES COLLAGE EXPLODE?

I titled this blog Collage Exploded. That was a reaction I had when I saw the exhibition.

Collage is about putting lots of things together and that’s the experience I got when I walked though the galleries. The exhibition was a collage. Probably because the artist worked in so many different media and everything is included.