Glue Me Some

Three Fresh Takes on
the Lowly Collage Art

Some art forms are just like Rodney Dangerfield: they get no respect. Collage is one of them. And since your kid came home from school with some magazine cutouts glued to paper in the shape of, say, a rising sun, you too joined the dismissive crowd.
Not that, at the same time, you didn’t recognize his artistic genius, a proof, no doubt, of his superior genetic pool, and melted down when you read the words, “To the World’s Best Person.” Secretly you knew, however, this is being done since, well, way before even the concept of Kindergarden existed.
Collage is part of the oeuvre of many an amateur artist, but only few masters ever wasted anytime on them. There is, however, Picasso, arguably one of the greatest of them all. Enough said.
As technique goes, though, the form seems to be as vigorous and popular now as it was in centuries before the Catalan artist was even born. And due to its democratic, flexible, anyone-can-do-it nature, one doesn’t really need to be considered an artist to have a go at it. But many actually manage to take it a step further.
Take amateur artist Juan Osborne, for instance, who also happens to be a Spaniard. With the help of a custom software, he gathers hundreds of thousand of words associated with his subjects to recreate famous images and icons that have put their mark on the world in his collages.
The digital effect of the words winds up emulating the almost tactile visual impact of the Impressionism, but we’re sure most celebrated art critics would deplore our inclusion of the French Movement in a sentence about collage art. You judge it by yourself.
A similar tactile impression is taken a step further by British artist Jane Perkins, whose work uses everyday objects like marbles, toys or buttons picked up from recycling centers, second-hand shops and junkyards.
In fact, for the degree in textiles she got a few years ago, the former nurse focused her thesis on recycled art. That and her admiration for paintings by some Ecuadorian artists are the main components of her work.
And then there’s San Francisco-based Samuel Price whose focus is his favorite kind of pet: dogs. With seemingly a lot of time (and talent) in his hands, he spends hours paging through old magazines in search for just the right colors to compose his collages.
No computer for Price, for he trusts only his instincts to find the right combination of pictures that makes his portraits as expressive and easy to like as the pets themselves. As a result, his work is in high demand by dog lovers and street fairs alike.
These are but three examples of the popularity of this art medium. We could also add the work of Derek Gores, Megan Coyle, Jason Mecier and so many others. The Internet will bring you pages and pages on the subject with just a couple of strokes.
Not to drag the proceedings through some sticky goo, but the moment the established art world became as enraptured by a Van Gogh painting as by its multimillion auction value, or as much in awe of a work of obvious excess such as a diamond-studded skull as of the star wattage of its author, Damon Hirst, credibility has left the building, so to speak, and the rest became fair game.
We could go on and on but we obviously won’t. Whatever rocks your boat seems a more realist concept than how much did you pay for that chair. The accessibility and appeal of collages will always step unceremoniously on such bottom-line approach to art.
But don’t ever be fooled by it: it’s absolutely not as simple as it looks. It’s just one of the few things that we may think even us could have a go at it.

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