Installation as Collage: Duro Olowu

What do Yoruba costumes, Cindy Sherman, and giant sculptural sunglasses have in common? They’re all part of a new installation put together by fashion designer Duro Olowu (he doesn’t use the term curated).  It all started with his mother.

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Art & Design in South Africa Today

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Mesuli Mamba, “Rolfe’s Environment”

Mesuli Mamba is prison warden and collage artist in Swaziland, South Africa.  That’s where he grew up.  Mamba first learned about art from his father’s collection of Reader’s Digest —  which he still mines for collage materials, along with drawings,  poetry texts,  and glossy magazines (which can be hard to  get).

The 34-year-old says: ” “Being a prison warden is tough. Real tough. But once you get used to it, you get to know the people in your community—we’re supposed to call them inmates but they’re just my machita [guys]. They don’t know about my collages yet.”

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Gift Guide for Collage Lovers

Screen shot 2013 09 25 at 4.07.31 PM DREAM MANDALA SCARVES BY ALEX & LEE: FALL 2013   The Sche Report / Margaret Sche

SHOP scrambled spells POSH————–and if your budget allows you to go really posh, then visit some galleries and actually buy collage art!

If not…I’ve collected a few collagey items which are mostly easy on the budget.

The exception is the Alex and Lee scarf above,  from the “Dream Mandala” collection based on their Rorschach collages.   There are nine different patterns (the one above is Turquoise Mosaic).

You can get these in square or rectangular in silk or modal/wool for $250 each at Cavalier Goods.

Now on to some more modest purchases and real steals.

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Cousins Kissing: Shoes and other creatures

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Anna-Wili Highfield, Hummingbird (2013)

I like putting things together that you wouldn’t think of putting together, which is why I’m a collage artist.

Chloe, 2008 collection

So here’s a new series in which I’ll pair two artist/creators whose work, though unrelated, is similar————like, say, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and Tony Bennett singing “The Lady Is a Tramp” with Lady Gaga as the Lady.

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Your brain…your brain on collage

Collage can be a metaphor for consciousness. After all, the mind is like a collage. Ephemera, glued together by an invisible Artist.  The result in patterns may or might not make sense.

Some minds might be like a collage by the painter Elliott Puckette.

Elliott Puckette, “Untitled,” 2005 (Courtesy the Artist & Paul Kasmin Gallery)

Others might be like a work by Raven Schlossberg:

Raven Schlossberg, “Belvedere Arms,” 2002 (Private collection, New York
g-module, Paris )

Still others might resemble the minds of Thomas Hirschhorn and Felipe Oliveira Baptista:   you never know what they’ll look like.

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Cars, Quilts, & Fashion with Photo Transfers

Melic Meeting (Spread), 1979
Mixed media including solvent transfer on fabric collage, and mirror

Robert Rauschenberg was a pioneer in collage,  but he didn’t do fashion.   Well, unless you consider putting a tire around  a stuffed goat as accessorization.

He did owe some of his collage sensibility to his mother, who was a professional seamstress.  Cutting out paper patterns was something Rauschenberg did from boyhood.

His collage breakthroughs in the 1950’s incorporated photo transfer processes that put mass media into art in a new way. And in recent years, his imagery has had its impact on fashion and fabric.

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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.”

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