Appropriation is a very useful concept in contemporary art and essential to appreciating contemporary collage art.


I like to make funky figure collages with papers and text cut and pasted from magazines like W, Elle. Vogue, and ArtForum. I thumb through the magazines and tear out pages when the right image strikes. Everything becomes a magazine mash-up.


nancy nikkal, sex celebrity, collage 2016


The image nearby is my collage titled Sex Celebrity. This work is part of a new series with female images done in collage with various cut and pasted papers. Some of the papers are straight out of the magazine. Some are painted with acrylic. Some papers are purchased in an arts and crafts store. I like to mix and match and create works that combine image, color, pattern and texture. Most of all, I am fascinated by celebrity culture and Pop Art. My goal is to create images that are edgy, sexy and provocative.


The image you see is a collage on a 12×16 inch panel showing two x two females. Everything is an image: some more, some less real. The colors in this collage are creamy white, grey-black, green and tiny touches of pale blue and red.


The large female image is a close-up of a face, eyes closed as if in a swoon. She seems ensconced in a reverie in a garden setting, surrounded by green. She’s a beauty. Her eyes are decorated and glittery. There’s a large, expensive diamond jewel floating near her nose. The jewel looks like a delicate flower or a garden bug. I’ve seen expensive jewels in fashion magazines. They’re highly crafted with multiple stones. A beautiful woman deserves a beautiful diamond. I embellished the image, but it’s straight out of the magazine.

The smaller female image in my collage is a figure in a couturier outfit and her breasts are exposed. You see a lot of that in the fashion magazines currently. She’s standing in front of the large face image. There’s a third image in black and white located on the lower left side. It may be a print by Pablo Picasso torn from an art magazine. I took it because it was the right size and in black and white. There’s a fourth image on the right side that’s a face and facing left. If you look carefully, you can see eyes, eyebrows and hair. The face is made with striped green paper. I like stripes. I like to combine abstraction, reality and fantasy.


I cut and pasted all the papers. There is no actual glitter and no jewel – just papers to simulate jewels and glitter.


Appropriation in Art

I recommend the book titled Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s a little book with a lot of big ideas. The author says: remix and reimagine to discover your true path. It sounds like collage.

Appropriation in art is defined as the act of using pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The artist’s job is to decide how much image transformation is necessary. Some artists feel guilty for stealing an image. I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. There is so much to steal now. Images are everywhere. I think it’s how you use them that makes a difference.


nancy nikkal, flat chested, collage 2017

The image nearby is a magazine collage I created on a 14×11 inch paper substrate. I gave it the title FlatChested. I think she is. She’s high fashion and very thin. The image is inspired by the concept Exquisite Corpse where the parts don’t have to match. Each of the 3 parts comes from a different magazine page. I liked the pink background in the middle section and the model’s long, graceful hand. Her eyes were made up with glitter and that was also appealing. I liked the wild, dark hair in the top section that has a mustard yellow background. I liked the pattern where the hair is separated by a part in the middle. The width worked well with the cut-off hat in the pink section. I liked the dot patterns in the black and white bottom section. Everything worked well. I didn’t have to add glitter because the model already had glittery eye makeup. I changed her mouth and shortened her torso. Colors are gold, pink, black and white. Her skin color is caramel brown. The papers come from W magazine. There are only 4 pieces in this collage –  three horizontal rows of cut and pasted magazine papers and a mouth from a model image in black and white (from the same magazine).



My students often ask me about copyright infringement and appropriation. One student this winter had to overcome – and actually did overcome – her resistance to appropriating magazine images. I persuaded her. We talked about it all through the winter term at the Pelham Art Center where I teach contemporary collage to adults. Her career is print publishing so I understand her resistance to appropriating images. I really like her 3 portrait images. Each one is very different. See them below.


student portrait collage with papers & glitter


The image nearby is the 1st portrait collage Ilene created in class. Her papers included stamped drawing paper (dots) for the face, chevron-striped paper for the dress, decorated papers from magazines and painted paper for hair, eyes, nose and mouth. The collage is on 14″x11″ Bristol paper (substrate). Ilene spent a lot of time cutting papers for the hair, eyes and mouth. Notice one eye is light brown and the other eye is a black and white pattern. Ilene added green glitter eye makeup last. Her background is grey magazine paper with a printed gallery name as vertical text. I remember Ilene asked me if she should cut, cover or leave the vertical text. I said yes – leave it in – it’s not too prominent. Ilene’s 1st collage has a lot of directional movement with pattern and cut papers. The grey dots in the face are tilting down right. The vertical text is parallel to the right edge.




student collage, assorted papers & glitter, 2017


The image nearby is the 2nd portrait collage Ilene created in class. It’s much more abstract and the eyes, mouth, chin and hair are made with cut triangle papers. The papers come from magazine pages but do not show a model’s image. There’s a lot of dynamic energy in the way Ilene placed the cut papers. Notice some of the magazine papers are solid black, beige, yellow, blue and magenta red. Notice a few of the cut papers have stripes and crosshatched line drawing that adds texture. I love the spaces around the triangles. Ilene used a minimum number of papers but still gave us a sense of modeling the shape of a face. Notice the shading in the red papers for the lips. The way Ilene cut the papers gives a sense of volume. Notice the nose and tiny hands (each within a contrasting triangle) are actual magazine images – the only ones in this collage. Hooray for appropriation! I believe Ilene made the hands and nose small to make them less obvious as swiped magazine images. Notice the magenta-red lips are larger than either hand.



student collage, exquisite corpse portrait, 2017


The image nearby is the 3rd portrait collage Ilene created in class based on the concept Exquisite Corpse. I believe I made my collage FlatChested (above) during the class to demonstrate how to cut magazine papers in angled, horizontal strips, using different models for each piece. Ilene’s portrait includes a woman’s eyes, ears and hairline on top and a man’s mouth, chin and neck below. She included a black round hat for the top strip in the collage, and found decorated papers in swirly patterns and bright colors for the bottom strip. I know she loves this portrait collage. I really like the contrast of one face in color and another face in black & white, and really like that one half of the face is male and the other half is female. Ilene selected images with care so that the expressions in the eyes and mouth co-mingle.





See 72 pins (images) for the Exquisite Corpse at my Pinterest site. Some of the images are historic examples. My students love Exquisite corpse as a class project and I set up Pinterest boards so they can check out images online. Read more about the Exquisite corpse here.



Today, appropriating and remixing images and media is common practice for visual, audio, and performing artists. Appropriation is a strategy. Visual artists would not be able to create the mash-up of  images we create without all the images online and in magazines. They’re available, plentiful and we find them. Please share your thoughts. Do you swipe images and use them in collage? Do you re-mix other media? Tell me if you love the Exquisite Corpse.

Thanks for sharing – Nancy



Pancho Villa Dead and Alive

My favorite work by Robert Motherwell is titled Pancho Villa Dead and Alive (1943).

I love the work for the color, texture, painterly surface, the look of the layered papers, and Motherwell’s exuberant approach to his collage practice.  It is mixed media to the max. It looks so contemporary.

What a treat to see this and other works by this artist when I entered the Thannheiser Galleries at the Guggenheim Museum  (through January 5, 2014) at 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street, NY.

I did not expect to see so many – 50 plus collages and related drawings in ink and paint from the period 1943-1951. I did not know Motherwell created that many works in collage media.  Every work is large in scale (especially for collage and drawing).

Robert Motherwell, Pancho Villa Dead and Alive, 1943, Museum of Modern Art/Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA

Pancho Villa Dead and Alive was created with cut and pasted papers, ink and wood veneer on paper board (28 x 35 7/8 inches). Some papers are printed and embellished with more paint. The paints include oil and gouache (opaque watercolors).

Motherwell layered painted papers in the same color family (see the light blue section in the lower center part of the collage). Notice the paint drips.

Motherwell painted his papers in his favorite colors: black and white, ocher and pale blue.

He used flat light blue paint and faded pink paint for his background and some of the overpainted papers.

He painted red and black splotches and (faded) red and blue drips behind the child-like stick figures that imply two bodies (dead and alive) riddled with bullet holes.

Motherwell liked to work with fine-art drawing papers for their matte appearance and subtle color variations. He liked commercial coated papers, especially in bright colors, because they reminded him of the colors he saw in Mexico (during a 6 month stay with artist Roberto Matta).

Robert Motherwell, View from a High Tower (1944-45), Private Collection/Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA

View from a High Tower (above) was completed in 1944-45. It is 29 x 29 inches, tempera, oil, ink, pastel and pasted wood veneer, drawing paper, Japanese paper and printed map on paperboard (private collection).

I recommend the exhibition catalog for the four excellent essays. The first essay is about Motherwell’s early career with Peggy Guggenheim (titled The Theorist and the Gallerist, written by exhibition curator Susan Davidson). Another essay is about Motherwell’s  life-long fascination with themes of violence, revolution and death (titled Bloodstains and Bullet Holes, by Megan M. Fontanella). The third essay is about how he stretched the boundaries and the possibilities of paper as a vehicle for visual ideas (titled  Motherwell’s Risk, by Brandon Taylor). The last essay is about his materials (titled Motherwell’s Materials in the 1940s, by Jeffrey Warda).

Jeffrey Warda’s essay (page 56) mentions that all the commercial papers Motherwell used faded and the strong pink is now a pale flesh tone.

Robert Motherwell, Jeune Fille (1944) private collection/Dedalue Foundation, Inc./VAGA

Robert Motherwell, Jeune Fille (1944) Private Collection/Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA

Holland Cotter wrote a review for the NY Times (A Painter’s Cut-and-Paste Prequel: Robert Motherwell Early Collages at the Guggenheim, Dec. 3, 2013).

Cotter’s final paragraph asks slyly if Motherwell relinquished his role as sole creator of his work (a defining feature of Abstract Expressionism) because gravity, chemistry and light deserve equal billing as collaborators since the works have changed color, texture and form. My comment: Change is good.

Embellish the Media

I love how Motherwell painted over his media, used patterned papers, painted onto the papers, painted out papers, added lines, dots, drips and splotches. The surface is dense and yet there is incredible freedom in the process, and so much energy in the execution. I love how he tore off layers of papers to expose raw paper surfaces below, and contrasted hard-edge cut papers with soft-edge torn papers.

The image above is titled Jeune Fille (1944). It’s 24 x 19.5 inches, oil, ink, gouache, pasted drawing paper, colored paper, Japanese paper, German decorative paper and fabric on canvas board (private collection).

Motherwell was an explorer – adventurous and exuberant in his practice. Everything in the exhibition looks cutting-edge and even edgy. That is why this show is so important.

Read my comments (below) on how Motherwell got the exhibition that launched his career in 1943 – see FINAL THOUGHTS – Who you know…

Robert Motherwell, 9th Street Exhibition (1951) Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Tucker, 1963, Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA

Robert Motherwell, 9th Street Exhibition (1951) Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Tucker, 1963, Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA

Motherwell was a scholar and a founder member (who wrote about) the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s – also known as the New York School – and (no surprise!) Motherwell’s collages are filled with the gestural energy prerequisite for Ab-Ex painters.

Read more about Abstract Expressionism at the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (Metropolitan Museum of Art) website.

The image above is titled 9th Street Exhibition (1951). It is pasted papers with gouache and ink on paper, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, Donazione/Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Tucker, 1963.

Read an excellent overview of Motherwell’s life and career (with images and links) at Wikipedia.

Also see the the humorous (and informed) post  about the Motherwell/Guggenheim exhibition (11/13/13) by Ariel at Collage Volupte called How Robert Motherwell Lost His Dada Cred – its about Motherwell’s connection to Dadaism and Surrealism.

At the end of the post, Ariel writes about an old parlor game called Exquisite Corpse – played by Dadaist poets and visual artists in Europe in the period between World War I and World War II.

Motherwell was fascinated with dada, Surrealism, and automatic drawing.

FYI: Roberto Matta introduced Motherwell to a version of the exquisite corpse game at his NY salon. Motherwell attended the salons regularly in the early 1940s. Read more about the history of the Exquisite Corpse.

FYI: As a game, the exquisite corpse can be played by poets or visual artists. Players add words or images (drawings or collages) in turn. The first player writes or draws, folds the paper and passes it on to the next player. The final image or poem is supposed to be a surprise. Usually there are three or four players but, depending on how the paper is folded, the number can be more or fewer players.

FYI: Pancho Villa is an historic Mexican Revolutionary general, celebrated for his extraordinary feats in battles in the Mexican War for Independence. He was never defeated. He was assassinated in 1923 when he tried to run for political office in Mexico. Many streets throughout Mexico are named for him.


Try to see Robert Motherwell: Early Collages at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89 Street before it closes January 5, 2014.

The exhibition catalog is excellent for the essays, but not for the images. You have to see the works in person. I can remember how bold and colorful the works are. I saw them. I will remember. The catalog colors and resolution is disappointing (it may be because the catalog was relatively inexpensive). The Motherwell exhibition archive and the number of images may change. Best to get to the Museum and see the works in person. If you are a collage artist and if you love collage, you must see this show.


Who you know and how you build relationships with the right people is critically important. It also helps to be a brilliant artist in the right place at the right time.

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was an intellectual who wanted to be a painter.

Motherwell got his BA in philosophy and French at Stanford University (CA) and started his PhD in philosophy at Harvard University. He left Harvard, went to Columbia University (NY), met and was mentored by Meyer Schapiro (art history professor with an extraordinary reputation and contacts) who advised Motherwell to quit philosophy and focus on painting.

Meyer Schapiro introduced Motherwell to European emigree artists in NY, including Andre Masson, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. It was helpful that Motherwell was fluent in French, had studied literature and philosophy, and had been to Paris.

Motherwell became good friends with Chilean Surrealist artist Roberto Matta who introduced Motherwell to automatic drawing and Surrealism (which influenced Motherwelll’s artistic practice for the remainder of his life).

Matta also introduced Motherwell to Peggy Guggenheim who invited him (with William Baziotes and Jackson Pollock) to create collages for her upcoming collage exhibition at her gallery Art of This Century in New York.

According to Peter Plagens’s Wall Street Journal review (Robert Motherwell and the Exuberance of Invention, Wall Street Journal, Dec 5, 2013), Peggy Guggenheim wanted to juxtapose the work of pioneering European modernists with younger American artists just beginning to push into Abstract Expressionism. She asked the Americans to create collage for the Art of this Century show.

How could the young artists say no – they had to create the work – they wanted to be included in a show with European masters like Jean Arp, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso.

Motherwell’s collages were a huge success in the Art of this Century show. Peggy Guggenheim organized a solo collage show for Motherwell the following year.

Pancho Villa Dead and Alive was in the second show and immediately purchased and is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art NY.

Please send me your comments. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Small Scale Collage

January 24, 2013

Next week I will teach a workshop in paper collage at Iona Collage in New Rochelle, NY.  

I will be a substitute for their regular teacher, and I want the class project to be fun, quick and easy to do – and engage them in making a collage right there.

I will provide each student with a 6 x 9 inch exhibition postcard for them to work on.

They will use magazines for source media, and work with scissors and glue sticks to cut and paste papers. I will show sample postcards with collage that I prepare for them.

I will talk about the history of collage (and will not talk too much) while they are working on their project.

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are credited with the invention of modern collage (1912-1914). The English word collage comes from the French words papiers colle (glued paper), a term coined by the Cubists. People who paste paper may also paste photos, fabric and 3D materials like wood, plastic, metal etc.

Many books on contemporary art describe COLLAGE as a medium of surface planes that explore sub-surfaces. Many books also discuss collage as a medium that comments on waste and rampant consumer consumption. A lot of collage is about politics and identity. It’s always about narrative and media.

Basically, I want to say that there is so much potential collage media out there to recycle into art.  I think the idea of recycling and consumer consumption will appeal to this age demographic.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 1, 6x4, 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 1, 6×4, 2013

How about creating cards with collage?

I think we all have too much paper in our lives. But, I also think every piece of junk mail is a potential substrate (base) for collage, or can serve as paper to cut and paste onto something else.

Do you get postcard announcements for consumer goods in the mail? Do you get glossy multi-page home goods and fashion catalogs in the mail? It’s all potential collage media.

In my collage classes, I talk about 3Rs – reuse, repurpose and recycle.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, card with collage 2, 4x5, 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 2, 4×5, 2013

What about the holiday cards you received this year? Don’t throw them out. Recycle the castaways and use collage to create your own work of art. Cover the base with a little collage or cover it with a lot (but leave a little of the original card peeking through) to show the juxtaposition of the old with the new media.

Free Paper Bonanza

Last year I was gallery hopping in Chelsea (NYC). It was the closing day for the exhibition at one gallery, and I noticed a pile of really good, heavy weight exhibition announcement cards sitting on top of the counter where the gallery people sit.  The cards were an elegant graphic (text) printed on lovely white stock.

As soon as I found out it was the last day for the exhibition, I asked if I could have the cards. They said yes.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 3, 4x6, 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 3, 4×6, 2013

Theme and Variation

I like the idea of theme and variation. I start with the same base image. It can be an exhibition postcard (from my exhibitions) or a greeting card I’ve reproduced from my collage paintings.

Do you make your own cards? Do you reproduce your images into cards? Use the cards as a base for multiple collages. The new little collages can become the inspiration for new large works.

All the images included in this post are my tiny collages made with magazine papers on top of my printed 2013 New Years card. The card is a reproduction of a large painted paper collage I did last year. The card is small, about 4×6 inches. I added up to 10 collage pieces (very tiny pieces) per card. The imagery on the original was very geometric, so I planned to use rounded shapes and circular lines as a counter-balance to the straight edges. I did about 20 collage on cards and sent the cards to people who send me hand-made cards.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on card 4, 4"x6", 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on card 4, 4×6, 2013

I found a very interesting interview online titled “What’s New With Collage?” by Hrag Vartanian who interviewed Charles Wilkin at (Oct. 25, 2011)

Wilkin curated an exhibition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (NY) titled All That Remains, at the Picture Farm Gallery.

Vartanian asked: “What do you think is unique about collage today, if anything?”

Wilkin said: “One of the exciting things about collage is its primary use of discarded paper media which ultimately keeps it in motion, constantly changing like a chameleon. A quick look at the diversity of styles, concepts and technique found in contemporary collage proves it’s moved well beyond simply cut paper and glue.

He added: “I suspect many artists find it alluring for not only its immediacy but its unique and inherent nature to reinvent the familiar into something mysteriously new.”

Read more…

Thanks for reading. Please let me know how you recycle papers into art with collage.

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.

Jean Arp, Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance

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.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

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)

Marcel Duchamp, Roue de Bicyclette/Bicycle Wheel

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.

Marcel Duchamp, Fountane/Fountain

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.

Brian Goings at Hullaballoo

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.

Nikkal, Recycle 1, collage

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? 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?

This is the 2nd post and includes comments and images by Mary Hunter.

See the first post for links and information about ABMB in case you want to go in 2012.

Mary Hunter wrote:

Art Basel Miami Beach 10th Anniversary

MARY: “When my friend reminded me that I had agreed to attend ABMB this year, I wasn’t aware of the unexpected and overwhelming event I was about to experience.

Checking into the 50’s style hotel, a block from the beach and walking distance to Art Basel, made me feel like I was part of a movie set. Immediately I was among Sinatra, Monroe, large hotels, the Beach and “all” I had seen in movies and photos over the years.”

Collins Avenue Miami Beach

Mary took the images nearby. I think she has a great eye for the color and light in Miami I love her image below of the funky blue globes at the hotel restaurant. We had margaritas there at the end of the long first day that included travel to Miami (she from TX, me from NY) and two fairs: Art Now at the Catalina Hotel and then an opening night party for INK at Suites of Dorchester (sponsored by the International Fine Print Dealers Assn.), both on Collins Avenue.

the Hotel


MARY: “Attending with an artist friend who had been before, made navigating smoother and the essential information of the Exhibit helpful. Her knowledge of galleries, artists and art history was a bonus for me who travels intuitively. We shared lots of conversation and fun over the 3 plus days. You could afford days at one event or attend many of the fairs. It is Huge and more art that I could consume in 4 days. This left me with the thirst to return next year.”

NANCY: Mary knows how to look at art. She knows what she likes. She has a gift for conversation. I listened in on her conversations with gallery owners and was impressed with the dialogue and information gathered.

Mary took the next two images of me at the Convention Center. It was our day to see Art Basel Miami Beach. My shoes have sand on them because we walked on the beach before breakfast.

Nancy at ABMB

Nancy viewing at ABMB

The clouds in Miami were awesome. And it didn’t rain.

Miami Beach


MARY: “The quality of art I viewed was excellent, even some museum quality. The prices were as I expected and were negotiable. In light of the size of the show, it was installed very well (not an easy task I’m sure). There was less edgy and outsider art displayed. I didn’t miss it however. Viewing all the top worldwide galleries was impressive to me.”

 Gallery Reps Were Informative and Unpretentious

MARY: “The gallery reps were most engaging, informative and unpretentious. Hearing the story about paintings by the wife of Milton Avery was most interesting and peculiar.”

Images nearby are by Mary Hunter and show a small painting and a sculpture by Joan Miro, a glass artwork (artist unidentified), and a painting by Milton Avery’s wife.

Works by Joan Miro

Glass Art

Painting by Sally Avery

We found out it wasn’t a Milton Avery painting when Mary asked the gallerist to speak about the painting and he admitted it was by Sally Avery (nee Michel). Here’s a fact: Her income as an illustrator enabled Avery to devote himself to his painting. Read more about Avery…

Do you love Joan Miro’s art? Here’s a lively 4:30 minute You Tube video with wonderful Miro images and jazzy background music…


Outside AQUA

MARY: “Some of the smaller venue sites: INK, AQUA, Art NowMiami had a more intimate space and were just as good as the larger sites: Art Basel, NADA, Art Miami and Scope, to name a few.”



Outside the Hotel Catalina

NANCY: The image above outside the Hotel Catalina came from the Internet: Zia Gallery did a great blog titled Miami Basel End Notes with more images. Zia was one of about 16 galleries at Art Now Miami.

Mary wrote the artists she met were very approachable and interesting to converse with on their process, approach and work possibilities.

She found an art event we attended on Saturday evening after visiting Art Miami, Scope and Art Asia. We walked to the opening: Very edgy art, focus on graffiti. Organized for Mr. Brainwash, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and Pop Artist at a pop-up space called the Boulan Building at 21st Street and Collins Ave. It was so windy outside we were almost blown over trying to walk there. Do you know about Mr. Brainwash? His real name is Thierry Guetta, The exhibition party included the celebrity basketball star Bosh of the Miami Heat. Mary is a fan. She took the two pictures seen below. The two-story space was huge and filled with graffiti installations and paintings. The crowd was young. The celebrities didn’t stay long. We weren’t invited to the red-carpet dinner.

Bosh and Mr. Brainwash

Mr. Brainwash Graffiti painting

MARY: “I came home ‘drunk’ on great Contemporary Art and the pure enjoyment of having shared it with a good artist friend. And yes I will attend again next year as my appetite wants more!”

mary hunter

You can contact Mary:  marydothunteratmacdotcom

Mary in the Picture at ABMB

I think I took the picture above: Mary and the artist with his installation at ABMB. She bought a banana to eat. How smart is that? I wish I’d bought a banana also. I was starving as soon as we walked outside.

Mary and a Living Sculpture

I hope you enjoyed reading Mary’s comments and seeing the images. I am already looking forward to next year.

Thank you for your comments below.


November 17, 2011

I recently wrote about children making art.

It’s exciting to watch. They know instinctively what materials to use and how to express their ideas in a fresh way.

I think it’s important for kids to learn about collage by great artists like Romare Bearden, Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet and others.

The image below shows collage in progress by two 2nd grade students at the Williams Elementary School. Notice the line drawing by Romare Bearden sitting on top of papers near the green scissor.

Students do collage

The image below is Bearden’s collage titled The Block. Image: the Internet. Made in 17 fiberboard and plywood panels. Media includes various papers with foil, paint,ink, and graphite. You can see The Block at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC (August 30, 2011 – January 8, 2012).

The Block, Romare Bearden


Do you suppose children’s art is good enough to show in a contemporary art gallery? I think so. It can be bold, inventive, and charming.

My last post was about a collage exhibition with works by children in the 8th grade. I talked a lot about how the works were framed and installed in the gallery.

I didn’t mean to imply that framing and gallery installation was responsible for how good the art works looked.  Good framing always helps, but the young students made good art. Read about the exhibition…

Picasso said all children are artists and the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.

Do you think it’s true that young children are freer at making art than adults?

I remember a talented 10-year-old girl in a collage class I taught last summer.  She was so confident and competent.

She selected and cut all the collage papers she planned to use before she placed or glued any papers down. She didn’t plan her collage in advance. She built her collage as she glued. The process was seamless, direct and accomplished.

She was also the only child in the class.

I did an experiment last Sunday. I asked 3 of my grandchildren to make a collage based on The Block by Romare Bearden. Alexander is in 4th grade. Sofia is in 2nd grade. Aaron is in Kindergarten.  I showed them 3 drawings and a color print of The Block by Romare Bearden.

The image above is a poster for the exhibition Romare Bearden 1911-1988: A Centennial Celebration (August 30, 2011 – January 8, 2012).  Image: the Internet

Do you see that Bearden included an interior view of people, including a person sitting in the stairwell?


I brought along pre-cut papers and larger 9×12 inch paper in several different colors. I brought white Bristol paper for a substrate (the base of the collage). I brought black fine-point markers, glue in squeeze bottles, and plastic squeegees to press down collage papers. They had their own assorted color markers.

We talked about the buildings in their neighborhood. I said it was important to include lots of windows and show detail in the windows. I said remember to include doors, entry steps, architectural details within and above windows, and a view of people or pets in the windows (I showed them how Bearden included people). I suggested they embellish the rooftops with details.

The fine-point marker pens were the most interesting to them, so the collages all started as drawings. Each grandchild wanted to cut their own building blocks from the larger sheets, and cut windows from the medium size papers.

They image below is by Sofia.

Collage and drawing by Sofia

Sofia loved the pen with the brush tip and began to draw immediately on the right lower portion of her paper. The collage was glued in and around the drawing, and when the blocks were too wide for the paper, she slipped one behind the other. She used a light blue marker to color in the sky.

The image below is by Alexander.

Drawing and collage by Alexander

Alexander worked with the fine-line marker and drew details. He added a tall sculpture on a rooftop, added drawings of people inside and wrote numbers and words next to and within the buildings. He was very interested in how buildings have different window configurations. We talked about how older buildings may have high ceilings so windows are taller.

The image below is by Aaron.

Collage by Aaron

Aaron built his collage by first layering papers (windows) on building blocks. His buildings were constructed one by one. He cut the building blocks from large pieces of paper so the edges are not perfect rectangles. He cut thin, long triangular papers to fix the edges where they were irregular. He drew an elevator shaft in the blue building and added a collaged traffic light.

Each grandchild’s collage looks different and reflects their unique interests and focus.

Have you observed the way children make art? How do you think the work varies by age?

In December 2011, I will teach young students again at the Williams Elementary School and will watch and observe how they work and the ways they build their collages. I also want to see if and how they watch each other as they work.

Read more about the exhibition Romare Bearden 1911-1988: A Centennial Celebration (August 30, 2011 – January 8, 2012).

Bearden worked in collage – it dominated his studio practice the last 25 years of his life. His collages included magazine clippings, fabric, old photographs and colored papers.

Read about other centennial events in honor of Romare Bearden…

Also at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Don’t Miss The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt designed and constructed by Faith Ringgold in collaboration with NYC students ages 8-18 (through January 22, 2012). Another great exhibition with children!

I hope you get a chance to see the many shows that honor Romare Bearden on the centennial of his birth.

Please add your comments below about childrens’ art and collage by Romare Bearden. Thank you.


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?


Nikkal, Drawing the Line

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)


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.

Picasso, Musical Score and Guitar


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.

Picasso, Bar Table with Guitar

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.