Technique in art consisting of cutting and pasting natural or manufactured materials to a
painted surface. The art of collage was initiated in 1912 when Picasso pasted a section of
commercially printed oilcloth to his cubist painting “Still Life with Chair”.
Collage elements appear in works by Gris, Braque, Malevich, Dove and the Futurist artists.
A basic means of Dada and Surrealist art, it was used by Arp, Schwitters and Ernst.
Collage is related to the newer art of assemblage, in which the traditional painted canvas
has been abandoned in favour of the assembling of various materials.
“In the collages various levels of meaning coexist on a single pictorial plane. Confronted with
this composite imagery we have no choice but to apply the notion, familiar from traditional art,
of the picture as a unity, a totality. Looking at pictures has accustomed us to considering the motifs that appear within an image as a whole. If we were not compelled by the coherent
nature of the collage to employ this simultaneous perception, we might not be able to
perceive the elements from which they are constructed individually and divide the
enigmatic image into intelligible parts.
This involves us in a continual clash between overall perception and a need for interpretation
that fastens on one detail after another; and this clash, in turn, is the source of that unique
mood produced by any confrontation with a Max Ernst image – elements that are intelligible
in isolation become ambivalent on the level of composition and communication…”