Ripped Wallpaper & Illicit Love

Picasso Homme a la pipe    Picasso, Homme á la Pipe (Le Fumeur), 1914

Picasso did it with swagger (and of course glue). Around 1912 he stole the pasted-paper idea from Braque.   “After having made the papier collés, I felt a great shock,” said Braque, “and it was an even greater shock to Picasso when I showed it to him.”

But where the other cubist had used art-ready cut papers, Picasso scavenged. Sheet music, newspaper scraps, the label from a packet of tobacco, cloth. The contrast of the real stuff with the painted  forms was new. For the collage above, Homme á la Pipe (Le Fumeur), 1914,  he ripped a piece of the old wallpaper off his studio wall and stuck it on the canvas.  Warch a short MOMA video about the materials in Picasso’s early collages here.

“Stuck on you.”  At the time, in France, collage was slang for “living in sin.”  In his excellent Collage; The Making of Modern Art, Brandon Taylor says that Picasso’s early collages provoked  a “frisson of excitement at the sight of a coupling…illicit…at the very limits of aesthetic decency.”

Picasso detail & Chanel box

Picasso detail & Chanel box

Maybe that’s why, in 1921———when Chanel launched her iconic No. 5——–the perfume was packaged in a design based on an early Picasso collage.  A recent exhibition  at Chanel tells all about it.

The Picasso collages still startle.  In 2009 fashion designer Phillip Lim saw one in an exhibition at Gagosian in New York.  “Wow—this feels so fresh,” he thought. “This is what I should do for Spring 2010.”  Watch the video here.

Phillip Lim collage dress 2010

Phillip Lim collage dress 2010

Lim is not the only fashion designer adopting a collage aesthetic.It’s probably to keep up with the fashionistas.  The days of chic as head-to-toe Chanel, or St. Laurent, or whoever, are over.   Women mix high with low with vintage, wearing their collages.  It’s the word 16-year-old fashion icon Tavi Gevinson used to explain her style in a delightful event at the Metropolitan Museum.

We no longer live in a unified cultural environment.  We’re collectors of ephemera. We’re collage artists.    “The ethos of collage shapes every aspect of contemporary culture, ” according to the blurb for a newly opened show at MOMA. It’s called Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City and runs till December 1 and includes collages by Rem Koolhas, Mies van der Rohe, and others  (more in later posts)

Rem Koolhaus collage

It’s not just in architecture.  More artists are making painting that looks like collage.   Interior design, typography, perfume, film and video, hybrid art forms———–collage.  Mashups are collage.  Christian Marclay’s The Clock is collage, a medium he has explored in different forms, including his Body Mix series of the early ’90s.  He stitched together record album covers on a sewing machine to create androgynous icons. Read more about this series here.

Christian Marclay, “Body Mix”

Collage is how we live now.  When collaging, I often find the perfect piece mysteriously lands on the paper, so with this blog,  I expect there will be magic.  While I was writing this first post, I came upon this post in Tamu McPherson’s wonderful All the Pretty Birds street fashion blog.

This blog is a romantic adventure in collage art and collage everything.   Tear off. Hook up. Cut. Paste. Comment. Pin it.

Image sources:  1) Picasso   2) Chanel   3) Lim  4) Koolhaus  5) Marclay


Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s