Collage is not just about Cut and Paste…

I visited the VIP Preview at Art New York in May 2019 with a goal to see works in collage and works that explore a modern collage aesthetic – by important women artists. The fair, located at Pier 94, at 55thStreet & Westside Highway is an international contemporary and modern art event (May 2-5, 2019).

Collage, if narrowly defined, is about cut and paste – typically with papers. Modern artists expanded its boundaries and contemporary painters use it as a visual model. A collage aesthetic can be the way a work of art is assembled or constructed. It can also be about a visual experience. We live in the age of collage.

Very quickly, I found three artists – an American Abstract Expressionist painter (Grace Hartigan) who also made paper collage, a French icon (Sonia Delaunay) who was represented at the fair by modern tapestry, and a contemporary American (Debbie Ma) who constructs large abstract paintings with marble dust. I was intrigued by the formal strategies and presentation of all three, and felt each artist offered a new way to view modern art in the context of the times in which she lives/lived.

 

Grace Hartigan, Dolls

The image above is a painting by Grace Hartigan (American, 1922-2008), seen at the C. Grimaldi Art Gallery booth at the fair.  It’s titled Dolls (1976), and is oil on canvas and 49 x 82 inches.  The collage aesthetic is expressed here in the way the artist juxtaposes figures in the painting composition.

Hartigan’s paintings included dolls, courtesans, film stars and mythical, chimerical creatures drawn from fantasy and, as the artist stated, “understanding the life you are living.” Many of the subjects she painted were poor or derelict people she saw on the streets in her neighborhood. Her life experience was a visual collage. The painting expresses the life she lived.

I learned Hartigan started to create collage in the late 1950s.

 

Grace Hartigan, collage

The two images, above and below, are collages by Grace Hartigan. From a distance I thought I was looking at collages by Lee Krasner (American, 1908 – 1984), but, walking closer, knew it was not true.

I’m reading Mary Gabriel’s book titled Ninth Street Women, subtitled Five Painters and the Movement that Changed Modern Art – about the rise of Abstract Expressionism in New York in the 1950s.  Grace Hartigan was one of the few female artists included in the movement with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Arshile Gorky. She was known for combining gestural abstraction with imagery derived from art history and popular culture. She began to receive a high level of exposure, and her paintings were included in the exhibition 12 Americans at the Museum of Modern Art in NY (1956), as well as the exhibition The New American Paintings that traveled throughout Europe from 1958 to 1959. She had her first solo show in 1950, and three years later, her first major sale, when the Museum of Modern Art bought her painting titled The Persian Jacket (see below), oil on canvas, 57.5 x 48 inches.

 

Grace Hartigan, collage

 

Grace Hartigan, the Persian Jacket

 

Mary Gabriel’s book titled Ninth Street recounts the struggles of the early abstract expressionist artist, particularly the struggles of the women.

In 1960, Hartigan moved to Baltimore, and promptly fell off the NY art world map. Pop Art and Minimalism had eclipsed Abstract Expressionism, and male artists dominated the art market. Hartigan had to paint in a loft in a former Baltimore department store and taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, but the college created a graduate school around her (the Hoffberger School of Painting) and she became director in 1965. Hartigan taught at the school until retiring in 2007, one year before she died.

Hartigan’s work is represented extensively in private and public collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

 

Geometric Abstraction and a Tapestry

 

Sonia Delaunay, tapestry at Art NY

I saw the image above at one of the first booths at Art NY. I walked closer to make sure the work was by Sonia Delaunay. I recognized the image because I am a great fan of the artist’s work. It’s titled Nocturne Matinale, and is a wool tapestry (commissioned ca. 1970), 70.9 x 71.1 inches. The gallerist told me Sonia Delaunay (French, born in Ukraine, 1885- 1970) was the first living female artist to have a retrospective at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1964.  My image shows it’s a wall hanging and there are iron sculptures standing next to and in front.  I am familiar with Delaunay’s gouache paintings and prints, but never knew her works as tapestry in the same bold, geometric design.

 

Sonia Delaunay, Nocturne Matinale

The image above is another wool tapestry, also titled Nocturne Matinale, also 70.9 x 71,1 inches. With this image, you see the work without the distracting sculpture in front. Sonia Delaunay wrote: For me, the abstract and the sensual should come together…” The tapestry is lush and sensual. I wanted to touch it.

I’ve always loved and been inspired by Delaunay’s colors and geometric designs. The style is called Orphism. With her husband Robert, Sonia Delaunay was part of a group in Paris thatpioneered the style – a fusion of Cubism and Neo-Impressionism that was influenced by the vivid colors of Fauvism. In Orphism, primary and secondary colors (red with green, yellow with purple, and blue with orange) are combined to create a visual vibration.

 

Sonia Delaunay, Thunderbird

The image above is a lithograph on wove paper by Sonia Delaunay and is titled Thunderbird, ed/75, image size: 20 x 16.5 inches (52.5cm x 42 cm), sheet: 30 x 22 inches (75.5 cm x 56 cm).

 

Sonia Delaunay, Color Rhythm

The image above, by Sonia Delaunay, is titled Colour Rhythm No 1921, It’s gouache on paper, 1973 (collection: MoMA), 27 ¼ x 22 in (69.2z55.9 cm)

Sonia Delaunay died on December 5, 1979 in Paris, France at the age of 94. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, among others.

 

Paintings and Marble Dust

 

Debbie Ma at Art NY

I selected Debbie Ma as the third artist for this post because I think her geometric paintings are stunning and believe her approach to painting personifies a collage aesthetic. I took the image of the artist with her work (above) at the fair. The work is titled No Way In (2019) and is marble dust on canvas, 64 x 80 x 3 in (162.5 x 203.1 x 7.6 cm).

 

DMD Contemporary booth at Art NY

Ma is represented by DMD Contemporary in NY, and the booth (seen above) at Art NY featured Debbie Ma as a solo artist. The paintings show depth, texture and tonality in the formal mix in every work.

 

Debbie Ma, Cross Country

The image above is by Debbie Ma, titled Cross Country (2006) and is a painting with marble dust on canvas, 60 x 36 inches (152 x 137 cm). Cross Country is a wobbly grid in brown black and white. It’s in the permanent collection at the David T. Owsley Museum of Art, Muncie, IN.

Debbie Ma’s works are a tapestry of quiet patterns in bold formation.  Her paintings are like visual two-dimensional sculptures. They are amazing to see in person.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I chose 3 artists who lived at different times, in different places and worked in different media.

I created a collage experience for myself at Art New York in the way I viewed and experienced the art.

Please share you comments about the idea of a collage aesthetic.

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“Vicarious”

Solo Exhibition: November 1-25, 2018

Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY 10706

Reception: Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018 2-5 pm. Gallery hours: Thur – Sun, 12:30-5:30 pm

tel: 914 674 8548, web: http://www.upstreamgallery.com

 Interview: ©Nancy Egol Nikkal

 

Mitchell Goldberg titled this solo exhibition VICARIOUS and is showing his newest works in collage, image transfer and printmaking. The works focus on imagined or constructed memories of male companionship. Goldberg says: “I’m interested in male camaraderie, desire, and emotions related to body image.” His collages explore gay male sexuality through the lens of pop culture imagery, distorted memory and vicarious nostalgia.

“Vicarious” is an intriguing word. It’s an adjective used to modify another word. For example: “a vicarious thrill” – where the thrill is felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others. As viewers, we can share in the pleasure of Goldberg’s love of his media. And – the media is the message.

Goldberg creates collage with cut and pasted papers, his own figure drawings, and image transfers of men from vintage magazines and photos. All the images are classic gay beefcake, soft gay porn, and automobiles, along with flashes of color and recycled imagery from his own work. Goldberg adds transparent layers of color in acrylic and encaustic to create depth and complexity to enhance the sense of memory altered, distorted and rewritten through the passage of time.

The artist adds: “while the works delve into the universal experience of loneliness, they also offer hope in the form of potential intimacy and companionship.”

 

Mitchell Goldberg, Remembering Them

The image above is titled “Remembering Them” and was the first work done for this exhibition. It’s a double panel collage (diptych) with acrylic and photo image transfer, 36 x 24 inches. The photos are almost all in B&W. The layered colors are blue and red. Goldberg says his assembly process for this work follows the same assembly process for media used in his previous solo exhibition.

 

Mitchell Goldberg, Summer Solstice

The image above is titled “Summer Solstice” and was done next. Goldberg says it’s from a series that feature his figure studies. This work is 16”x20” and the media is entirely acrylic and image transfer. The overlapping figures are in B&W. The transparent, layered colors are red, orange and purple.

 

I asked Goldberg about his art background and how he learned to work with all the different media he uses in collage. He made his first collages during a break before his senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, and only took studio arts classes that final year. The first collages also included pop culture pictures of men and cars that express sexual identity. His instructors at Sarah Lawrence said the backgrounds in the collages were too flat.  Goldberg said, although the criticism hurt, he managed to learn from it and his work improved.

He put together his own version of art school and took adult classes at Westchester Community College and the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NY.” He was in his 40s and consciously decided to never take criticism personally and always try to listen and learn. He studied sculpture, drawing, life drawing and painting, learned to make stained glass, then learned to make fused glass and explore transparent color layering (with Dorothy Hafner), He studied watercolor and printmaking, life drawing and etching, working with multiple print plates.

He said a fellow student introduced him to transparent image transfer – which ultimately changed how he makes collage. He loves building layers with color and multiple images and often adds mono printing above solvent based image transfer, or transparent acrylic paint as a final layer.

 

Mitchell Goldberg, Midnight Dream

The image above is titled “Midnight Dream” and is the last he finished among the three images. This work is 12” x 24”. The media is collage with acrylic and image transfer. The collage includes a torn monoprint. The background color behind the figures images is saffron yellow. The figures overlap in a design that moves horizontally. The artist added small areas of transparent green and red.

 

The Art of Image Transfer

Goldberg says he used more image transfer and less cut and pasted papers in the collages for this exhibition. He also varied the media in each work based on size. All the 12” x 24” panels feature a torn mono print with a solvent image transfer on it.   Every work that is 12” x 12” has an image transfer of a simple 3-piece or 4-piece collage layered with an old photograph and a layer of acrylic paint. The 20” x 16” pieces all feature image transfers of a figure drawing by the artist with added layers of image transfers and acrylic paint.

Goldberg likes working with image transfers because he can re-use the original image. He likes the depth that image transfers give by revealing what’s behind the top image and thinks color layering with image transfer is so beautiful because it  enhances the dreaminess of the vision while adding an abstract dimension to the work.

The artist also says he misses having the texture and aged quality of original papers, and will return to paper collage at some point in the future.

 

I asked Goldberg if there were artists who influenced or inspired him as a collage artist. He likes James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg, the photographers Robert Frank, Gary Wingrand and Diane Arbus – because they knew how to observe the world. He loves works by the artist Kandinsky and early works by Miro. He said Pop Art, Dada and Surrealism are primary inspiration. Goldberg likes Gay artists such as Paul Cadmus and George Tooker because they brought emotion and real depiction of the human experience into their work.

Goldberg says he tries to bring a sense of irony and wit to his work. He is critical of some gay art today because the works are basically figure studies of perfect looking men and very idealized relationships. He adds: “I have been lifting weights since my early twenties, because I also want to look good.”

Meet the artist on Sunday, November 4th (2-5 pm) at the gallery reception. See the exhibition (Nov 1-25, 2018) during regular gallery hours: Thursday – Sunday, 12:30-5:30 pm. For information and gallery directions, call 914.674.8548. Visit Goldberg’s webpage at Upstream Gallery. Visit the artist’s website to see more works.

COLOR – THAT’S IT

April 26, 2013

I exhibited original collage paintings at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show at Pier 94 in NYC from March 21-24, 2013.

I planned my booth (M135) and designed it to be all about bright colors – hot pinks, warm reds, greens, blues, darks and whites to make the colors ping.

Every piece of art  – every painting and collage that I hung in the booth was selected for its color in order to attract an audience. And it did.

The 2 images below are installed as a diptych – 2 works  hung together as one. They are titled Musical Notes 1 and 2.

Nancy Egol, Nikkal, Musical Notes 1 and 2, 2011

Nikkal, Musical Notes 1 and 2, 2011

The work on the left is a painting in acrylic on canvas, 24×24 inches. The work on the right is a collage with acrylic painted papers on a 24×24 inch wood panel. My studio practice is mainly collage, but I love to paint so some works are paintings and some works are painted paper collage. The image above was taken by Marcy Michaud. She wrote a blog about the show and included my image.

When I do painted paper collage, I paint papers first, and then, when the paint is dry, I play with cut paper blocks and organize them into grid patterns. I almost always work with a grid. Sometimes I change the size and shape of the papers as I make the collage. Sometimes I paint back into the papers after they are glued down. The color relationships are the most important part of each work.

The images below are 2 collages with painted papers and assorted magazine papers, framed size 13.5″x16″. The works are titled Color Game Hidden Spaces (top) and Color Game Green & Red (bottom). They were installed on a side wall in my booth.

1 and 2 installation Color Game collages

Nikkal, Color Game 1 and 2, 2012

On the opposite wall, I hung a horizontal framed collage I titled DNA. See the image below. I want people to be attracted to the power of color. It’s painted paper collage on paper, framed: 22″ x29.5″, 2012.

Nikkal, DNA, 2012

Nikkal, DNA, 2012

I was asked – why did I title the collage DNA? Answer: The color blocks made me think of uncurled strands of DNA. A little bit. My approach to naming the art was very unscientific. Someone said: DNA would only show in 4 colors. My collage had more than 4. I had 3 greens, 2 blues, a red-purple, a reddish brown and several yellows.

I checked out images of DNA online and learned that the DNA molecules are paired chemicals – hydrogen bonds given the letters A,T, G and C  (A pairs with T and G pairs with C). The letters stand for adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine. Here’s more information…

See the image below (image courtesy the Internet).  It’s an uncurled strand of DNA that does look a little like my collage.

DNA image the Internet

DNA image the Internet

I know my collage DNA included too many colors – but I love color.

I found a link to a letter from Francis Crick to his son Michael explaining how he (Crick) and Jim Watson discovered and built a model of D.N.A. It’s a lovely hand-written note from a father to a son. Read more…

VARIETY IS IMPORTANT

People want to see variety, especially at a trade show. So I included about 30 additional unframed works for all the people who visited my booth to look at and hold.

I tucked these smaller unframed collages into 11”x14” clear vinyl slipcases and placed them in an art bin freestanding on the floor. Each vinyl slipcase was numbered to match a price list with titles, image sizes and media for each work.

Many works in the bin combined printmaking, drawing and collage.

The image below is titled Random Squares in a Grid 2 (Brown & White Stripes). It’s collage with assorted papers and acrylic on paper, 11.5″ x 11.5″, 2011.

Nikkal, Random Squares in a Grid 2

Nikkal, Random Squares in a Grid 2

The image below is titled Random Squares in a Grid 7 (Azo Yellow). Its  a collage with assorted papers over painted paper, 11″ x 12″, 2011.

Nikkal, Random Squares Grid 7, 2012

Nikkal, Random Squares Grid 7, 2012

It pleased me that people took time to handle the unframed works. People like to touch. I took the works out of the slipcases so they could see and touch the surfaces.

The image below is a collage of colorful striped papers on top of a silkscreen print card (the card is a print from an original drawing).  I like to collage over hand-made cards. The paper is fine printmaking quality, folded like a card, 8″ x 7″, 2013.

Nikkal, Colors by Chance, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance, 2013

The 2 images below are 2 more small collages on top of hand-made cards on printmaking paper, folded, 8″ x 7″, 2013. The cards were very popular at the show, and priced to sell.

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 4, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 4, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 3, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 3, 2013

It was a good thing that I included the variety I did. Many people loved the pinks and reds of the framed works hung on the walls. Many people were interested in the variety of different works in the art bin.

Please visit my website to see 28 images that were at the show.  Click on each image to enlarge and get a better view of the detail and collage layers.

THE WORK CONTINUES

Follow-up is so important after the trade show closes. I am still contacting designers, architects and others, sending information and image files they’ve requested.

A trade show offers incredible opportunities. The networking is amazing.

Please contact me if you want more information. I am happy to answer your questions about how to organize work for exhibit in a large show like the Architectural Digest Home Design show. My booth was located in the “MADE” section with more than 150 designers, artists and craftsmen – from lighting, fine crafted furniture, photography, sculpture and fine art paintings and collage. I think I will participate in the show again next year.

I will probably play with painted paper collage in the studio, and explore the idea of DNA paired as blocks. I am intrigued with mixing art and science. Do you think art and science work well together? Many people do. Thank you for reading and for your comments.