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Exploring the Cutting-Edge History and Evolution of Collage Art

Abstract Expressionism

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.

Collage Art Collage History Abstract Expressionism Collage

Robert Motherwell, ‘View from a High Tower' (1944-45)

Collage Art Collage History Abstract Expressionism Collage

Ad Reinhardt, ‘Untitled' (1939)

Collage Art Collage History Abstract Expressionism Collage

Lee Krasner, ‘City Verticals' (1953)

Pop Art

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.

Collage Art Collage History Pop Art Collage

Rosalyn Drexler, ‘The Dream' (1963)

Collage Art Collage History Pop Art Collage

Martha Rosler, ‘Vacuuming Pop Art' (1966-1972)

Contemporary Approach

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.

Related Articles:

Art History: Exploring the Avant-Garde Art of Surrealism

9 Abstract Artists Who Changed the Way We Look at Painting

7 Colorful Masterpieces That Define the Pop Art Movement

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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