Martha Rosler – Photomontage, Video, Sculpture and Installation


I visited the exhibitionMartha Rosler: Irrespective at the Jewish Museum in New York (November 2, 2018 – March 3, 2019), a five-decade retrospective of works by the artist, including installation, sculpture, video, photography and photo-collage. Rosler (American, b. 1943) is a Brooklyn-based artist and was born and raised in New York, graduated from Brooklyn College (1965) and the University of California, San Diego (1974).


Martha Rosler 640 installation view

The image above shows two installations. The formal banquet dining table with cloth and candelabra  is titled A Gourmet Experience. It was one of Rosler’s earliest large-scale works and was part of her Brooklyn College master of fine arts thesis exhibition in 1974.   On the wall behind the table are slide projections.  Photo by Jason Mandella. Image courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. Video component courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix, New York


The right side of the image above shows an installation that includes lingerie-clad mannequins hanging from the ceiling, attached to the wall, or propped on a metal chair or pedestal. This installation is titled Objects With No Titles. See the full image below. Photo by Jason Mandella, Image: Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

The Jewish Museum website included personal commentary by Eden Rachel Chinn, a Digital Intern, who said she saw humor in Martha Rosler’s  Objects With No Titles and wrote “When I first saw Objects With No Titles, I laughed. The sculptural installation is comprised of polyester batting comically forced into women’s lingerie, suspended from floor to ceiling. This installation invites us to reexamine what has changed since the work was first installed in 1973, and added: Nothing has changed.“ Read it here.

Cut and Paste Photomontage


Martha Rosler 640 Makeup Hands Up

Martha Rosler, Makeup Hands Up















The earliest works at Martha Rosler: Irrespective  were cut-and-paste photomontage, a collage technique. The image above is titled Makeup/Hands Up and is from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, c. 1967-72. The original was photomontage. This work is a pigmented inkjet print, 23 ¾ x 13 15/16 inches (printed 2011).

Makeup/Hands Up shows a close-up view of a model with manicured nails  applying highlighter makeup under her brows. The original media is a color photo and pasted in the middle is a smaller B&W war photo that shows a woman forced to march at gunpoint with her hands up.


martha rosler 640 Objects with No Titles

Martha Rosler, Objects With No Titles

The image above shows the  installation Objects With No Titles (1973/2018). It includes lingerie-clad mannequins hanging from the ceiling, attached to the wall, or propped on a metal chair or pedestal. Photo by Jason Mandella, Image: Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

Martha Rosler 640 Cleaning the drapes, House Beautiful

Martha Rosler, Cleaning the Drapes

The image above is titled Cleaning the Drapes, and is one of twenty works from the early series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (c. 1967-1972).  Photo: courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), NY. This work is a pigmented inkjet print (photomontage), 17 15/16 x 23 ¾ inches, printed in 2011, and shows a woman with a 1960’s haircut vacuuming gold brocade drapes that are pulled back to reveal a view of the Vietnam War right outside the window, an image of the war people could have seen on the nightly news or in the newspaper at that time. This work is Rosler’s feminist critique of American involvement in Vietnam. Roster said: “Pretty  much everyone hated my work when I made it, except for the feminists.”

Martha Rosler considered these works agitprop and distributed them as Xeroxed flyers at anti-war demonstrations.


Martha Rosler 640 The Gray Drape House Beautiful

Martha Rosler, The Gray Drape

The Grey Drape (2008), seen above, is a photomontage Rosler created to reprise her House Beautiful Bringing the War Home series – this time done in 2004 and 2008 as protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She revised the title to House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, New Series.

Many critics were not kind to the new series. They said Rosler showed a lack of imagination and innovation. Jerry Saltz wrote a review titled “Welcome to the Sixties, Yet Again” in New York Magazine (2008). The title says it all. Read it here.

I found a positive review of Rosler’s work in a post by Melissa Huang (dated June 18, 2011) who wrote she found it interesting that Rosler was examining events and media imagery with the same eye as in the late 60’s and early 70’s, adding, the two series blend together as if Americans were as oblivious to the war in Iraq as they were previously to the war in Vietnam. She included a quote by Rosler defending her reprise of the series:

“I wanted to – even at the loss of some self-pride – go back to something that I had done many years before in exactly the same way, or as close a way as I could, to say…I must return to exactly the same form because we have sunk back to the same level, of a kind of indifferent relationship to what our country is doing. I wanted specifically to evoke a mood and invoke a way of working, to say, “Tout la change, tout la meme chose.”


Martha Rosler 640 Invasion House Beautiful

Martha Rosler, Invasion

The image above is titled Invasion, photomontage, 2008. This work shows a tank flanked by an army of men in identical black suits. See an online slideshow of Rosler’s Irrespective exhibition at the Mitchell-Innes and Nash Gallery.

Charles Moffat uses the headline “Embracing Controversy” in an article about Martha Rosler at The Art History Archive. He writes:

“…Her work can be formally complex, politically powerful and uncannily funny — sometimes all at once. She is a master manipulator of images: cutting, pasting, decontextualizing, mimicking, and rearranging our expectations.


Rosler’s works have been displayed in several Whitney Biennials (1979, 1983, 1987, 1990), major national and international museums, and the Venice Biennale (2003). She has received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1976, 1980, 1983 and 1984). She is a published author, including books, catalogues and periodicals.



Anne Ryan

December 12, 2018

Printmaking and Collage

Anne Ryan (American 1889-1954) was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. She was a self-taught writer, painter and printmaker who took up her preferred medium of collage at the age of 58. She married attorney William McFadden in 1911 and had 3 children. She was legally separated from her husband in 1923. Her daughter Elizabeth McFadden is also an artist.  Ryan published her book of poems, Lost Hills in 1925, and her novel, Raquel in 1926.  She moved to Majorca in 1931 as an independent woman with her three children. Two years later she returned to the US, to Greenwich Village in downtown NYC, where her neighbors and friends were poets, actors, writers and artists associated with the New York School, including the painter Hans Hoffmann and the sculptor Tony Smith, who encouraged Ryan to paint. She opened a restaurant to support her children (and did the cooking herself). She also designed costumes and backdrops for ballet productions.


1 Anne Ryan 640 collage 256 at MoMA

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #256


The image above is Untitled Collage #256 (dated 1949), 6 ¾ x 5 ½ inches, made with cut and pasted colored and printed papers, cloth and string on paper, in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, gift of Elizabeth McFadden. All of Anne Ryan’s collages are untitled (just numbered). She is recognized as an Abstract Expressionist collage artist and created about 400 tiny collages in a brief period, from 1948 to the year of her death in 1954

I first saw this collage and two other collages by Anne Ryan in the 2017 MoMA survey exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (April 19 – August 12, 2017). The exhibition included 94 works by 53 women artists from the USA and other countries. Anne Ryan’s untitled collage #256 was one of 3 collages by the artist in the exhibition. I learned Ryan was inspired to create collage when she saw an exhibition of works by the German artist Kurt Schwitters in 1948. The signage at the MoMA exhibition said “…Ryan’s all-over compositions and linear movements of the woven, often frayed papers and fabrics evoke the gestural energy of Abstract Expressionism.”




2 Anne Ryan 640 color woodcut Primavera copy

Anne Ryan, Primavera, Color Woodcut


Ryan’s first contact with the New York Avant-garde came in 1941 when she joined the Atelier 17, a famous printmaking workshop founded by the British artist Stanley William Hayter. The Atelier was first established in Paris in the 1930s and then brought to New York when Hayter had to flee the Vichy regime during the Nazi occupation of France. Ryan became an important member of the Atelier. Her preferred print media was the woodcut.

The image above is Ryan’s color woodcut on paper titled Primavera, dated 1947. The print sheet size is 14 ½ x 19 inches. The print image is 11 ½ x 15 ½ inches. This woodcut was a museum purchase and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.  Many of Ryan’s woodcuts and other prints are in permanent museum collections throughout the U.S.

Ryan created about 100 prints between 1941 and 1948, including woodcuts, monotypes, and intaglio.  She did inventive things with her woodcuts, adopting the white-line woodcut technique that involved making incised lines around the shapes of a woodcut composition and adding color to the print. Ryan took the technique in a different direction by substituting black paper as her substrate, so the images were black on black.  The blue, white and yellow colors in Primavera were added with paint after the print was pulled. Ryan printed with oil-based inks, and applied oil paint to areas in the print with her fingers and small rollers that make each print unique. She layered thick pigments interspersed with thin glazes to create varied surfaces and textures. Ryan worked with linear, semi-abstract figure images. Her subjects included still life, bathers, reclining nudes, and juggling clowns.



3 Anne Ryan 640 collage #57 at the MET

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #57


From 1948 to her death in 1954, Ryan created about four hundred tiny collages with fabric, found media and hand-made papers. The image above is an untitled collage (#57), dated ca. 1950, 6 ½ x 5 1/8 inches, made with cut and pasted fabrics, papers and bamboo on paper. He design is in an oval shape, mounted on textured, white handmade paper. The oval is made with rectangles in tones of red, pink, rose, white, grey, black and taupe. This collage was one of twenty-three (23) works included in the exhibition The Prismatic Eye: Collages by Anne Ryan, 1948-54 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (June 4-September 6, 2010). Ryan’s daughter Elizabeth McFadden said her mother was enthralled with the way Schwitters (1887-1948) combined papers, saying: “What he could do in such a small space…How he transformed bits of paper and scraps of cloth!”…”

McFadden also said her mother made her first collages the same day she saw the Schwitters exhibition: “Mother went from one collage to another in a passion of delight…We went home and before she put water on for supper, she was at her work table making collages.”


4 Anne Ryan 640 collage #8 Schwitters

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #8


The image above is an Untitled collage (#8), not dated, made with paper and chalk on paperboard, mounted on paperboard, 5 ¾ x 4 ½ inches. Collage #8 is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, gift of Elizabeth McFadden.

With Collage #8 you see how Ryan imitated Schwitters by including snippets of printed text in her work. #8 is not dated, but it probably was created at the beginning of Ryan’s collage practice. The white line drawing may be a woodcut print remnant. Notice the tiny paper triangle with a photo image of airplanes. Notice the soft, torn edges of the background papers, layered creamy white on red brown on white. The sense of texture is yummy. I included this image to show Schwitter’s early influence, but also show Ryan was moving toward working with hand-made papers and fabric. According to Elizabeth McFadden, her mother collected fabrics and preferred them worn, even tattered or frayed, combining fabrics with cardboard, foil, or cellophane to create, tiny textured abstract arrangements. Ryan rarely painted or made marks on the surfaces of her papers or fabric.


5 Anne Ryan 640 collage #538 Hirschhorn

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #538


Ryan created collages arranged in a tight geometric grid design. The image above is Untitled #538 (1953) and part of the permanent collection at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. The beautiful textured papers look like a quilt with pieces stitched together and shows a composition in soft greys, black and white, tan and rosy brown.


6 Anne Ryan 640 collage #175 paper & netting

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #175


The image above is Untitled #175. It includes overlapping fabrics and papers, including silk, netting, handmade rag paper and Japanese rice papers. FYI: Ryan used hand made papers created by Douglass Howell, an important pioneer in papermaking.  Many artists, including Joan Miro, Stanley William Hayter, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock also worked with Howell’s beautiful papers for printing, collage, drawing and watercolor. Ryan’s collages are exquisite because she worked with exquisite media.


7 Anne Ryan 640 collage #319 at MET

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #319


The image above is Untitled #319, dated 1949, made with a multitude of cut and torn papers, fabrics, gold foil and bast fiber pasted on paper, mounted on black paper, 7 ¾ x 6 ¾ inches. Collection: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, gift of Elizabeth McFadden. It’s another small work with great dynamic energy.


8 Anne Ryan 640 collage #164

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #164


The image above is Untitled #164 (1951), made with cut and pasted colored and painted papers and cloth on paper, 4 x 3 ¾ inches, collection: the Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Elizabeth McFadden.  This shows a design with textured papers and linen mesh fabric pieces, cut into triangles and squares that are are glued on a natural white textured paper background. I like the simple arrangement and frayed edges of the fabric pieces and the play of monochromatic tones in this collage.


9 Anne Ryan 640 collage #353 at MoMA

Anne Ryan, Untitled Collage #353


The image above is Untitled #353 (1949), made with cut and pasted colored paper, cloth and string on paper, 7 ½ x 6 7/8 inches, collection: The Museum of Modern Art, gift of Elizabeth McFadden.

This collage was included in the 2017 MoMA survey exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (April 19-Auugst 13, 2017). MoMA has 4 Anne Ryan collages in its permanent collection and showed #353 with 2 other collages by her. I wrote 3 posts about the exhibition and my third post opens with this collage image. I  included a link to a NY Times review by Holland Cotter that showed the same Ryan collage. He challenged MoMA to reorganize their permanent collection galleries that draw the largest crowds and “put Anne Ryan next to Kurt Schwitters and Jackson Pollock to see how that shakes out, historically and atmospherically…” I agree.

Ryan’s resume is stellar, but we don’t see much of her work. In the 1950s her collages were included in the Whitney Museum of American Art Annuals and Biennials in NYC (1951, 1953 and 1955).

She was included in the groundbreaking 1951 Ninth Street Show in NY (May 21-June 10, 1951). Her cohort were the New York avant-garde, known as the New York School, including Elaine and Willem deKooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Goodnough, Philip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, David Smith, Franz Kline and Hans Hoffmann.

Ryan’s works can be seen in many group exhibitions organized by the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, 100 Eleventh Avenue, New York. She is included in his roster of 20thand 21stcentury American artists.


I was surprised – and happy – when I saw Ryan’s 3 collages side by side in the survey exhibition at MoMA. I have to ask myself why I didn’t I know about her work, and why all the online reviews always referenced Kurt Schwitters’ influence.  I think Ryan was an original. Artists and the art world acknowledged her when she was alive, but her reputation was eclipsed after her death in 1954. The small size of her work was an important factor. Small didn’t count.

I’m glad the curators for Making Space scoured the MoMA collections and found 3 Ryan collages to include in the survey show. I saw Ryan’s works in the same setting with grand paintings by Agnes Martin, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and Yayoi Kusama. I am inspired by Anne Ryan’s dedication to collage. The number of works she created and the quality of each one is an amazing testament to her commitment and creative genius. I agree with Holland Cotter – Ryan’s works need to be seen in the public galleries and not hidden away.

Louise Bourgeois

August 31, 2018

My recent post STILL SO BLUE was all about artists who work with the color blue – but I only wrote about men – the “big guns” – Henri Matisse (French 1869-1954), Richard Diebenkorn (American 1922-1993), Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch 1853-1890), and Andy Warhol (American 1928-1987).

I received an email a few days after I posted the blog. It included a single sentence – a question: Where Are the Women? I felt EXPOSED and GUILTY because I didn’t write about a single woman artist. This post will remedy that omission, and will focus on the artist Louise Bourgeois. Her reputation is stellar.

I am also starting to collect information and write a book that will focus on women artists – because I admire their works and want to know more about them.

LOUISE BOURGEOIS (French-American 1911-2010)

The image nearby shows Louise Bourgeois’ bronze, marble and stainless steel sculpture of a spider – an arachnid – titled Maman – dated 1999. The sculpture stands over 30 feet high. It’s installed at the Guggenheim Museum in the Basque city of Bilbao in northern Spain. I included this image because it shows a beautiful blue sky in the background.

Louise Bourgeois, Maman

Louise Bourgeois, Maman

She said: “The colour blue – that is my colour – and the colour blue means you have left the drabness of day-to-day reality to be transported into – not a world of fantasy, it’s not a world of fantasy – but a world of freedom where you can say what you like and what you don’t like. This has been expressed forever by the colour blue, which is really sky blue.”

Louise Bourgeois always said and did exactly what she liked.

“The spider—why the spider? Louise Bourgeois wrote:

Because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider.”

The Huffington Post had a lot to say about Bourgeois’ spider.  In an articled titled “A Love Letter to Louise Bourgeois, A Feminist Icon Whether She Likes it or Not”  (Dec. 6, 2017), Katherine Brooks wrote: Bourgeois created her first arachnid in 1999 and they quickly proliferated, as spiders are wont to do. Titled “Maman,” the spindly creatures and their egg sacs, made from stainless steal, marble and bronze, stood as tributes to Bourgeois’ mother, Josephine.

Bourgeois is best known for her sculptures, which range in scale from the intimate to the monumental. She worked in many different media, including wood, bronze, latex, marble, and fabric. Her imagery included totemic forms, hanging figures and anatomical fragments that conflated or mixed together female/male.

Louise Bourgeois, Tete V

Louise Bourgeois, Tete V

The image nearby is titled Tete V, and is a soft sculpture made with cut and sewn fabric (2004). It sits on a stainless steel base. Notice there are two heads and one neck. Notice how the rough, soft surface of the sewn sculpture contrasts with the smooth, hard surface of the stainless steel. Bourgois is known for juxtaposing materials conventionally considered male or female, and using rough or hard materials associated with masculinity to sculpt soft biomorphic forms that are suggestive of femininity. Image: courtesy Xavier Hufkens Gallery, Brussels. Photo: Christopher Burke © the Easton Foundation.


Fabric played an important role in Bourgeois’ life. She grew up surrounded by the textiles of her parents’ tapestry restoration workshop, and from the age of twelve helped the business by drawing in the sections of the missing parts that were to be repaired. Bourgeois was a life-long hoarder of clothes and household items such as tablecloths, napkins and bed linen. She cut up and re-stitched these, transforming her materials into art. She wrote: The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole.

Louise Bourgeois, Personnage

Louise Bourgeois, Personnage

Louise Bourgeois began making her fabric heads when she was in her eighties. She cut fabric, typically from the same bolt of cloth, starting with an inner core and gradually adding layers of fabric, hand-stitching the features as the form progressed. It was her intention to make the stitching crude with loose threads and raw edges.


Louise Bourgeois, Three Figures

Louise Bourgeois, Three Figures

Siri Hustvedt wrote a brilliant review for Bourgeois’ exhibition at the Tate Modern for The Guardian (Oct. 5, 2007) and mentioned a sculpture titled The Three Horizontals (1998), made with fabric and steel, 53 x 72 x 36 inches. This work shows 3 bodies mounted one above the other like diminishing versions of the same person. The review said they are amputees and their soft anatomies appear to have been torn and mended, adding – there is a tenderness in the execution. You expect to see marble, but instead, see pieced fabric. The juxtaposition of the soft fabric and the hard metal creates a tension and makes you take notice.

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

Louise Bourgeois usually worked in series, often returning to a familiar theme. One theme – Femme Maison (means “house woman”) is shown here – above as a fabric sculpture and below as a chine colle print. The print is dated 1984 and the plate for the print is 9 7/16 by 11 13/16 inches. The fabric sculpture is dated 2005 and the size is 6.5 x 15 x 5 inches. Both images are ©The Easton Foundation/VAGA

If Bourgeois were asked if she knew a piece was finished, she would reply:

“It is never finished. The subject is never exhausted.”

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

LOUISE BOURGEOIS began her life in Paris, where her parents had a gallery. Later, the family moved to Choisy-le-Roi and then to Antony. Her father served as a soldier during World War I, was wounded at the front, and after his return, the family opened a tapestry restoration studio, where Louise learned to draw in order to assist in the family business. Bourgeois studied mathematics for a short time at the Sorbonne, and then left the Sorbonne for various art schools. In 1938, she met the art historian, Robert Goldwater, married him, and moved to New York, where she lived and worked until her death in 2010


Louise Bourgeois’ work did not emerge OUT OF THE BLUE or in isolation. She drew inspiration from her life as well as the world of art and art history. She worked in two dimensions, in three dimensions and in terms of ideas, subject matter, and media.

Would you like to receive a free PDF copy of“ How to be an artist according to Louise Bourgeois”?  Email me (include the subject line (How to be an artist according to Louise Bourgeois), and I will send it to you.

Theme and Variation

nikka,, collage 1

nikkal, collage 1




This year, I decided to cut and paste red, green and blue papers into a collage for a holiday e-card. The image nearby is the first collage I created. Notice there are soft edged outlines in pink, yellow and light blue, created with oil pastel. This collage didn’t make the cut for the e-card. The design wasn’t as open as I wanted.

I made 3 color copies of the original collage. One by one, I cut and pasted each color copy and reassembled the pieces. One collage became 3 collages. I wanted the right combination of curvy, overlapping shapes and open spaces in between. I wanted the collage more vertical.  See the 2nd collage image nearby.

nikkal, collage version 2

nikkal, collage version 2



Version 2 is more vertical. I added cut circles and half circles in contrasting colors – blue on green, red and green on blue – and glued the papers into the collage on top of the strips.

I still didn’t love the 2nd version of the collage  because there wasn’t enough white space in the design.

I cut up another color copy of the original collage and glued the strips down. See the image below.





nikkal, collage version 3 unglued



Notice version 3 of the collage nearby is unglued. Notice the strips of white paper. This time, before I glued the papers down, I took a photo because I wanted to remember where the paper strips were placed. You can see that the papers are not attached.






nikkal, collage version 4

nikkal, collage version 4

Here is version 4. I glued down the papers, but they moved – they always move in the process of lifting the papers to apply glue. The 3rd collage looks different from the unglued version.

I posted the collage image with a holiday greeting on Facebook and got a great response.People loved the colors and the design.  I’m emailing the image as a holiday greeting to friends and family who may not be on Facebook.

I still have the first original collage and can make more color copies for more variations. Collage is unending. That’s ok.

I have a new project: theme and variation with cut and reassembled curvy paper collage. I want to do this on a larger scale. Paintings can become quilts.

I’m paying attention to colors, connections and interior spaces.




The inspiration for this project came from seeing an exhibition this summer at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, MA. It’s a converted factory building complex and one of the largest centers for contemporary, visual art in the United States. It’s a favorite destination for me for a summer get-away.

I walked through all the first floor galleries this trip tot MASS MoCA, then walked through all the 3 levels of galleries showing works by the artist Sol Lewitt, then walked up a tall industrial stairway into a 2nd floor gallery and saw large paintings by Sarah Crowner. She’s a Brooklyn-based artist. Her exhibition also included ceramic tiles installed on platforms you walked on to get close to the paintings hung on the wall. I was inspired.

Sarah Crowner says she treats her paintings like a collage. I was smitten.


Sarah Crowner, cut and sewn paintings

Sarah Crowner, cut and sewn paintings

The image nearby is from the Mass MoCA website: Sarah Crowner – Beetle in the Leaves (summer 2016). Try to image the scale and the industrial background. The space is huge.  Read more about the Mass MoCA exhibition here.

Sarah Crowner says this sewn painting is inspired by Sophie Taeuber Arp (Swiss, 1889-1943), a multi-media, applied arts, performance artist and textile designer also associated with the Dada art movement. Read about her here.

The Mass MoCA website says: Sarah Crowner mines the legacy of abstraction and treats art history itself as a medium to be manipulated—sampling, collaging, and rearranging existing images to create new forms. Her practice—which includes ceramics, tile floors, sculptures, and theater curtains—centers around sewn paintings she stitches together with visible stitching functioning as both line and surface. Her works are large.


Sarah Crowner, new paintings in the studio

Sarah Crowner, new paintings in the studio

I found an interview with Sarah Crowner (ArtForum, 9/05/11) where she said she’s always using art history as a medium, cutting it up and trying to reengage it.

Click the link and read the interview here. The image nearby is from the online ArtForum interview and shows a view of Sarah Crowner’s studio and new work.



Your comments – please

Are you inspired to reassemble your art? Do you make the trip to MASS MoCA? Would you cut up a painting and make it into a collage?


Happy HolidaysMerry ChristmasHappy New Year.




Artist, collagist with painted papers, author, and blogger

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Do you use PINTEREST?

I’m passionate about Pinterest because it’s so visually inspiring.  I collect Pinterest images for the collage classes I teach. I design collage projects inspired by Pinterest images, and encourage my students to visit my “boards” online.

Julia Child quote

Julia Child quote

The image above – a quote by Julia Child – says: “Find something you’re passionate about AND stay tremendously interested in it.” That’s good advice for a fulfilling, creative life. I was drawn to the pin immediately for the words and also for the white on black design. It’s pinned to a board titled black and white that includes paintings, drawings, sculpture and more by great contemporary and 20th century artists. See images here. Join Pinterest if you aren’t a member. My last post – CHILDREN MAKE ART – was about an after-school workshop project with cut and pasted papers at the Williams Elementary School (Mt. Vernon, NY). I found the sunshine image at Pinterest and designed the project with all papers included. See the 7 step lesson plan for the sunny face collage here.

Collage by Rosella

Collage by Rosella

See Rosella’s collage above. She was one of twenty 4th and 5th grade students at the one-hour workshop. Notice she created a background with multi-color Sharpie markers that contrast with her collage papers. She created a collage face with cut and pasted papers for the nose and eyes, and cut triangles for sun rays. Papers are bright yellow, pink, purple, lime green, blue and crayon red. Notice all the stripes and polka dots. Rosella is a very dedicated artist and included a lot of collage papers and details. See the original Pinterest sunshine inspiration and more kid’s images here.   The image above shows another Pinterest pin – a sunny face – with text: “Make My Day.” The sunny face is on top, but the emphasis is on the colorful block letter text on a yellow background.  Notice the letters are triangles, rectangles and semi-circle shapes. Each shape is a distinct color: green, purple, red, teal blue, and orange. Notice the colors change as shapes overlap. Everyone – kids and adults – loves to play with letter shapes. I will design 2 projects. The kids’ workshop will emphasize overlapping shapes and how the colors change when the shapes overlap.  We’ll explore color transparencies with tissue paper. I will design the adult’s workshop so people explore re-contextualizing the words “Make My Day” and play with vintage Hollywood, and Clint Eastwood images as Dirty Harry.

Portrait Collage, John Szetaker

Portrait Collage, John Szetaker

The image above is by the artist John Stezaker.  I’m a fan of his contemporary portrait collage. Notice he juxtaposed two black and white photos that are probably Hollywood headshots. He cut and pasted the images to make a single composite image. Notice one photo is smaller and is pasted down so the top projects above the photo under. I pinned this image to my board titled portrait collage. See portrait collages here. I’ve included images that range from whimsical to semi-abstract to historic works by the dada artist Hannah Hoch.

Pretty People and Pithy Quotes

Typical Pinterest boards are about food, fashion, and children. Quotes are very popular. Since art is my calling, I collect arty images and pin work by favorite modern artists (Henri Matisse’s photo shows him cutting paper for collage). I organize pin boards as portraits, art journals, mixed media, and geometric shapes, including circles, triangles, stripes, and squares. The flavor is contemporary, geometric and abstract. See all 17 boards here.   I’m very fond of quotes – more and more – and  started 2 boards with quotes. One board is titled “Words to Remember.” One board is titled “Typography in Art.” The image below is all cursive lettering with the statement: “All my BEST friends eat SUNSHINE.” That’s a great comment and makes me smile. Notice the hand-painted letters are black on white and stacked vertically. As a collage project, I would use the quote as a jumping-off point and ask people (or kids) to cut out images that remind them of friends, eating, and sunshine (happiness).   How would you interpret best friends who eat sunshine? Would you include words in the design?  Would your collage be all cut and pasted images? Would you emphasize faces, food or letters? How would you create the letters? Kids like to cut individual letters and paste down one at a time. If you paint letters, I recommend you paint individual letters on medium weight paper, allow the paint to dry, and then paste letters down. Notice the letters are different sizes and some of the letters are lower case and some are capitalized.

Is it a smile or frown?

Is it a smile or frown?

Notice the image above. I see a frown and also see a smile. You decide how you view it. So many people add a smiley face to end sentences in email. This one makes you stop and think. It makes me smile.     The image above is a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez – “No Matter What, Nobody Can Take Away the Dances You’ve Already Had.” This image would be a great collage project for a girl who loves to dance. The collage could include cut and pasted magazine images of dancers and dancer’s shoes. It would be a different collage project for the Carrie Bradshaws (see cable TV – Sex and the City). She collects top designer shoes. That’s a major theme of the show. Pinterest shows a lot of shoes and images of models in high fashion shoes. Women love their shoes. Imagine a collage showing rows and rows of high fashion, outrageously beautiful shoes. You can find those images on Pinterest. That would be a statement.     There is etiquette on Pinterest. The image above says: “If you want to honor someone on Pinterest please credit their work. So much art it not credited. Please put a name to the art.” I found the pin at Diane Dodson Barton’s site and pinned it to my quotes board. She has 29 boards and 10,205 followers.


    The above image is a quote – “Creativity Takes Courage” by Henri Matisse written in his own script.  How wonderful to see the hand of the artist in his own words. A photo of Matisse (in a wheelchair) cutting papers is on the cover of my board titled “Favorite Modern Artists” (79 pins) – including Matisse, Paul Klee, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters, Jean Arp and more. Every one is inspiration.   I have a Pinterest board and show images of my own art that I re-pin from other people’s boards. I am always surprised to see where the images land, and always happy when I see my name credited. See my board titled nikkal studio collages here.   Please add your comments. Let me know if you love Pinterest – or you prefer Instagram.

I am writing about the art reception last Sunday at Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT. The exhibitions include contemporary and installation art. There are two solo shows and a group exhibition in the main galleries. All the exhibitions are September 15 – October 26, 2013. Gallery hours are Wed. to Sat., 12-5 and Sun. 1-5. See directions…

In addition to the gallery exhibitions, there is a special preview exhibit with 10″ x10″ works in a range of 2D and 3D media by Guild artists. The works  will be part of a raffle on Saturday, October 5, 2013 (5:00-7:00 pm) at the annual Signed Sealed and Delivered collector’s party to benefit the Silvermine Arts Center.

I invite you to visit Silvermine Arts Center and see the current exhibitions in person. Every gallery installation is worth seeing.

I invite you to purchase tickets and attend Signed Sealed and Delivered on October 5th. The walls in Sara Victoria Hall auditorium at Silvermine will be installed with hundreds of original small 4″ x6″ works tacked to the wall, all ready for you to purchase. Works are 2D and 3D. Plan to attend. The art is very affordable. It’s a great party.  Purchase tickets now. Read more…

Kerry, Nancy, Claudia, Stephanie and Shiela

Kerry, Nancy, Claudia, Stephanie and Shiela

The image above was taken on Sunday at the opening reception. I am with 4 artists who are part of the group exhibition titled Beyond the Book. The artists above are from left to right, Kerry Brock, me, Claudia Mengel, Stephanie Joyce and Shiela Hall. See some of the art behind the group.

Contemporary art = installation art.

Every gallery included installation art. The people interacted with the art – walking around and through, touching, reading and talking.

Today, we are all part of the show. That’s the way we want to experience art events.

When I visit museums and galleries, I study how the art is installed and how people are viewing the exhibition. I watch the people.  I always find that the experience is like multi-media collage. I look at people who look at art, and they look at me. The art experience is about people, images and the way the exhibitions are put together.  It’s all a collage.  Do you agree?

Christine Aarons, Liminal States

Christine Aarons, installation for Liminal States

The image above is a view of the gallery installation for Christine Aaron’s solo exhibition Liminal States: Beneath the Surface, a solo exhibition at the Silvermine Art Center (September  15 to October 26, 2012). Photo courtesy Robin Axness, Silvermine Arts Center.

Christine Aaron’s studio practice focuses on themes of memory, loss and the passage of time. Images of trees (some are real) serve as a metaphor for the cycle of life. Read more…

Shiela Hale, Book and Table

Shiela Hale, Book and Table

The image above is Shiela Hale at the Beyond the Book exhibition on Sunday at Silvermine Arts Center.  The 7 artists in the group include: Kerry Brock, Shiela, Barbara Harder, Stephanie Joyce, Elisa Khachian, Claudia Mengel, and Susan Newbold.

The concept for Beyond the Book asks us to question what a book can be and how you experience it. The exhibit includes paintings, prints, drawings, books as sculpture and furniture.  Read more…

 Shiela is standing next to her book (sculpture) on her table. She creates elegant, minimal artworks (drawings and prints), and books that are sculpture and contemporary commentary. All the small tables in the Beyond the Book installation were designed by Shiela Hale and fabricated according to her new patent.  Photo courtesy, Robin Axness, Silvermine Arts Center. Read a review about Shiela Hale’s  patented furniture design.
Amy Bilden, Timeline 1, 2012

Amy Bilden, Timeline 1, 2012

Amy Bilden’s solo exhibition titled “Inheritance” includes tactile domestic-inspired sculptures that, according to the artist,  map emotional and physical space. The image above is titled Timeline 1 (2012), yarn and personal objects. Image, the Internet.

Bilden’s installation includes paper sculpture that hugs the top of the gallery walls.  The elements are individual fragile folded papers, but the mass effect assumes power in space. Viewers looked closely at the multiple parts that make the whole.

See more images. Read more about the artist…

Nancy Nikkal, paper collage

Nancy Nikkal, paper collage

The image above is me standing next to my black and white collage titled Cell Block. It’s layered paper over 35 mm transparencies on 10″x10″ wood panel. I created the work for Signed Sealed & Delivered at Silvermine Arts Center on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

The image below is a view of gallery walls with donated 10″x10″ works for Signed Sealed & Delivered. See images online.

Gallery view, 10"x10" art

Gallery view, 10″x10″ art

I hope you enjoyed the art scene at Silvermine Arts Center with this online tour. I hope you know it’s always better to see the art in person.

Silvermine Arts Center is located at 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, CT.  All exhibits are September 15 – October 26, 2013.  Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday: 12 – 5pm, Sunday: 1- 5pm. Signed Sealed & Delivered is Saturday, October 5, 2013 (5-7 pm). See information online, or call 203.966.9700.

I will attend the collector’s party in October. I hope I will see you there.


May 17, 2012

The American sculptor John Chamberlain  (1927-2011) said he didn’t find his media, he chose it.

CHOICE – is very much a part of the artist’s process.

The John Chamberlain retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum (February 24-May 13, 2012) closed last week. See Museum curator Susan Davidson’s review of the show at the exhibition video.

I am so glad I got to see the show.

Chamberlain, Untitled 1961

The image above (Untitled 1961) is paper, cardboard, printed paper, crayon, paint and metal on painted fiberboard, 12 1/4 x 13 x 5 inches. Courtesy the Allan Stone Collection.

Chamberlain said fit and choice were the guiding principles in his career. The exhibition showed he was really a collage artist.

Chamberlain always used the word “chosen” over “found” to describe both his materials and art-making process.

His sculpture was 3D collage with deep folds that he created by squeezing or compressing metal and then “fitting” the various elements into complex compositions.

His materials were found in the ordinary sense but were chosen (collected, stored in the studio) waiting for the artist to choose, manipulate, paint, scrape and assemble.

His work is about juxtaposition, recontextualization, recalcitrance, fit, and chance.

Chamberlain, Delores James, 1962

The image above, titled Dolores James (1962) is painted and chromium-plated steel, 72 1/2 x 101 1/2 x 46 1/4 inches. Courtesy The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.


One of the key features of the exhibition is the variety in size and mastery of scale and proportion. Chamberlain was always examining and exploring scale.

Chamberlain’s sculptures range from the size of a fist (his hand) to the span of a generous hug (he was a robust man and it would have been a big hug), to the scale of a young (and eventually not so young) tree.

Chamberlain said if you get the scale right, the size doesn’t matter.


Chamberlain was a brilliant colorist and defied the color taboo.

When his career began in the 1950s, no sculpture had color because the Abstract/Expressionists dominated the art world and had a manifesto – color is the business of painting, not sculpture.

But Chamberlain said his color was part of the things he chose because the color was manufactured. That set him apart immediately from everyone else working in sculpture.

Chamberlain, Nutcracker, 1958

Chamberlain is considered one of the great colorists in mid-20th century American art – his work is painting in 3 dimensions.

The image above, titled Nutcracker,  is painted and chromium-plated steel, 45 1/2 x 43 1/2 x 32 inches. Courtesy the Allan Stone Collection.

Chamberlain chose common materials and that tied him to Pop Art. He worked with standardized, manufactured materials and that tied him to Minimalism. His method of assembly (juxtaposition and layering to get the right fit) tied him to collage and Neo-Dada.


In the 1960s he took a 7-year break from metal and automotive parts and played with paper bags.

The image below, titled Penthouse #50 (1969) is watercolor and resin on paper, 5 x 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches. the Dia Art Foundation.

He called the process “articulate wadding,” He crushed paper and dripped resin into the paper creases to increase their weight and solidity.

Chamberlain, Penthouse #50, 1969

He played with urethane foam (squeezing and folding and tying).

Chamberlain, Untitled, 1966

The image above, Untitled 1966 is one of many works in foam. The exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum included a large scooped and shaped foam seating area that people sat down on. Chamberlain called these “nests.”

During the 1960s he played with steel boxes (some started as tin spice containers), and had them enlarged to the size of a cigarette pack, then opened and crushed them into new forms.

He melted Plexiglas boxes and had them vacuum-mineral coated.

In the mid-1970s Chamberlain returned to automobile steel and  he dripped, poured, scraped and spray painted his colors.

The exhibition included freestanding sculpture, floor sculpture, wall sculpture, and smaller 3D works in display cases. Some pieces are welded or bolted, but many are not.

Chamberlain, Lord Suckfist, 1989

The image above is titled Lord Suckfist (1989). It’s painted, chromium-plated and stainless steel, 83 3/4 x 57 x 56 inches. Photo courtesy The Pace Gallery.


I talked with a gallery guide at the Museum, and asked about some of the large works that were freestanding and if they were welded. He said typically the works are not bolted or welded, just fitted together and are assembled and disassembled with each exhibition with intricate plans for how they are assembled.

Chamberlain said it was all about how they fit together.

I followed a group with a private tour guide and listened to him describe how the Museum created new walls to bring the works closer to the viewer.

The tour guide made me notice how Chamberlain inserted shiny chrome metal into many of the free-form sculptures. He talked about the way the metal folds looked like folded cloth.

Chamberlain, Kiss 12

The image above, titled Kiss 12 (1979) is painted steel, 30×31 x 27 inches, Galerie Karsten Greve, St. Moritz/Paris/Cologne.


We walked around the sculptures to see them from every angle, see how the metal is compressed and manipulated, and how the colors moved. He talked about how there is a sense of the “baroque” in Chamberlain’s  work especially in terms of the look of folded and draped material.

When Chamberlain chose car metal for his media, he was playing in the transgressive field of collage.    Read more…

You can see works by John Chamberlain  in a permanent collection at the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, NY. See the Guggenheim Museum website for images and more information. Purchase the exhibition catalog John Chamberlain Choices for brilliant essays and images.

Here’s a project for all of you who want to explore collage as sculpture: Take a paper bag, blow into it, compress it, open it or pop it, pierce it, fold it around something else or attach something to it. Add paint. Experiment.

Please share your comments if you’ve seen the show. Thank you.