Like the early modern artists that preceded them, Abstract Expressionists challenged conventional ideas about art. In order to take this avant-garde stance a step further, they rejected figurative subject matter and worked entirely in the abstract. This approach, however, was not limited to their more well-known drip, color field, and soak stain paintings; it is also evident in their collages.
Like their paintings, Abstract Expressionists’ collages showcase an emphasis on color, composition, and emotion. Through simplified silhouettes, blocks of cut-and-glued color, and free-floating, painted lines, the artists added (literal) layers of dimensionality to their already-famous aesthetic.
In 1956, British artist Richard Hamilton ushered in the Pop Art movement with his eye-catching collage, Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? Featuring carefully-selected clippings from American magazines, this piece incorporates several contemporaneous, pop culture-related motifs, including “Man, Woman, Food, History, Newspapers, Cinema, Domestic Appliances, Cars, Space, Comics, TV, Telephone, Information.”
In addition to setting the scene for Pop Art in terms of subject matter, this piece also inspired other members of the movement to explore collage art.
Today, numerous artists have kept up the collage tradition. While many continue to construct their assembled compositions by hand, some employ digital tools to craft them. Here, we look at a selection of contemporary collages that depict various methods of modern collage-crafting.