Robert Motherwell, “Jeune Fille,” 1944 Oil, ink, gouache, and pasted Kraft drawing paper, colored paper, Japanese paper, German decorative paper, and fabric on canvas board.
That headline needs some ‘splainin’, as Ricky Ricardo used to say. First, Dada—————-the more radical offshoot of Surrealism. Dada was thought up after World War I by a bunch of punk writers and artists in Europe. Okay, they didn’t use the word “punk.” But they were rebels. They flirted with nihilism. They wanted to shock.
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.
Imagine these scents put together: cabbage, tobacco, roses, and green tea. If collage means, as Wangechi Mutu said, “to embrace…discord with ease,” such a clash of scents qualifies.
Now free associate. A restaurant in Paris. A secret garden. Gauloises. A beautiful Chinese girl. There’s the beginning of a narrative:
During World War II, a man joins the French Resistance. Soon he must quit his job as a waiter at Le Petit Chou to hide out in an abandoned rose garden. Late at night. Liang Sha (hostess at Chou) brings him Gauloises, until …
I think of Banksy as the Zorro of the art world. Masked? Nobody knows his real identity–reportedly, not even his parents, who think he’s a high-end decorator.
After dark, he might turn up anywhere. He dazzles with his swordplay–okay, make that spray paint play. Then he vanishes into the night.
His art leans heavily on stencilled figures and silhouettes, gritty content, in-your-face messages. EVen if some of it later is sold for six figures. Still, this is illegal street art.
Lil Picard, “Burnt Ties” 1968
Machismo in reverse. In the early ’60’s, Lil Picard had been using women’s cosmetics as primary materials in her collages and assemblages. In 1968, she exhibited the burnt neckties at a show called “Destruction in Art.”
Critic Lucy Lippard wrote, ” “In 1967, using (perhaps not coincidentally) her husband’s real silk neckties, Picard began to burn things.” The ties were shown a few years later at Lajeski Gallery in New York with an added performance element: Picard used matches and irons to singe gallery-goers’ neckties.
Lil Picard, “Vin Ordinaries Chatel du Roy,” 1957 (Collage and oil on canvas)
A cabaret performer in Berlin before World War II. An artist in New York scavenging the streets for collage materials in the 1940’s. A journalist covering the art scene in New York in the fifties. A pioneering performance artist in early ’60’s “happenings” (think Cafe a Go Go). An habitue of Warhol’s factory who appeared in his films and wrote for Interview.
You’d think someone with this resume would be famous. But you’ve probably never heard of Lil Picard. I know I hadn’t.
Richard Meier & Partners, U.S. Embassy in London
Architecture is inevitably collage. A building is “pasted” into an existing mix—a streetscape in the city or natural landscape in the country. The architect considers how the new “piece” will fit the rest of the composition. So it’s not surprising that lots of architects have made collages.