The term collage derives from the French word papiers collés (or découpage) and describes a visual art form in which pieces of paper cut-outs of different forms are assembled together creating a new whole piece of art. The term collage was coined by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque who are also considered to be the first artists to have embraced the technique. This method can be combined with other media such as painting and drawing as well as three dimensional components. Collage is often assembled on a piece of paper or a canvas in which different kinds of paper elements are combined. These elements can include magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbons, different papers, texts, photographs, and pretty much anything an artist’s vision conjures to glue to the chosen surface.
Collage became a popular art technique in the early 1900s, however, it had already existed hundreds of years prior in China after the invention of paper. It had been used in art and crafts through times during all preceding centuries, yet, according to some art experts, collage as a proper art form was created only after the 1900 in tandem with the early stages of modernism. Anything before could be considered as crafts by hobbyists. Surrealist artists were eager to utilise the collage technique in their work. Later, artists who gave rise to the Pop Art or Nouveau Réalisme, as it was called on the continental Europe, movement also embraced collage as a media. Different styles of collage are, for example, cubomania, in which an image is cut into squares and reassembled automatically (unconsciously, without conscious control) and paraller collage, in which collective techniques were used in collage creation.
Wood collage, that emerged a little after paper collage as Kurt Schwitters began experimenting with the material in the 1920s. Wood collage was taken further by Louise Nevelson in the 1940s, who created sculptural wood collages from scraps. She utilised various kinds of pieces of wood she found from furniture and stair railings or mouldings to crates or barrels. Her massive creations resemble paintings yet have three dimensional capacities. Wood collage is often combined with other techniques.
Decoupage has generally been considered as a craft and it can involve creating depth to the picture by adding several layers of the same image which is often coated with for example, varnish or glue for protection. The technique was very popular in the 1600s and 1700s France but arrived there from in China via Venice. Artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse utilised decoupage technique to create abstract pieces of art in the early 1900s.
Photomontage is a collage made from photographs. The process includes cutting and mounting together pieces of various separate photographs. Sometimes the finished composition was photographed in order to create a solid photographic print. Today such works can be created utilising image-editing software. This has made the creation of photomontage easier, however, some artists have taken digital editing to artistic extremes in order to create compositions that demonstrate skills and immersion that equal the expectations of traditional arts. As with other collage techniques photomontage is often combined with other visual art medias.
Collages are created utilising various techniques and new techniques and equipment are constantly being developed to match artists’ visions.