A picture or design created by adhering such basically flat elements as newspaper, wallpaper, printed text and illustrations, photographs, cloth, string, etc., to a flat surface, when the result becomes three-dimensional, and might also be called a relief sculpture. Most of the elements adhered in producing most collages are "found" materials. Introduced by the Cubist artists, this process was widely used by artists who followed, and is a familiar technique in contemporary art.


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907 

Analytical Cubism is one of the two major branches of the artistic movement of Cubism and was developed between 1908 and 1912 by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. An analytical cubist work involved the painting of an object from multiple viewpoints. Analytic cubists "analyzed" natural forms and reduced the forms into basic geometric parts on the two-dimensional picture plane. Color was almost non-existent except for the use of a monochromatic scheme that often included grey, blue and ochre. Instead of an emphasis on color, Analytic cubists focused on forms like the cylinder, sphere and the cone to represent the natural world.

Untitled-16.jpg (602299 bytes) Pablo Picasso, The Guitar Player, Cadaques, summer 1910 Oil on canvas 73 x 100 cm


Synthetic cubism is characterized by the introduction of different textures, surfaces, collage elements, papier collé and a large variety of merged subject matter. It was the beginning of collage materials being introduced as an important ingredient of fine art work.


Papier collé (French: pasted paper) is a painting technique and type of collage. With papier collé the artist pastes pieces of flat material (paper, oil and cloth?) into a painting. Georges Braque produced the first cubism works which involved mixed media.   He developed paper collage and papier colle and used shreds of mixed media to produce the effect of actual paint, layered on the canvas. Paint was added in addition to the other media, but still maintained multiple planes and multiple viewpoints in these works of art.  

Georges Braque first used this technique in his 1912 painting, Fruitdish and Glass.

"The purpose of the papier colle was to give the idea that different textures can enter into composition to become the reality in the painting that competes with the reality in nature. We tried to get rid of trompe l'oeil (tromp loy) to find a trompe l'esprit. We didn't any longer want to fool the eye; we wanted to fool the mind. The sheet of newspaper was never used in order to make a newspaper. It was used to become a bottle or something like that. It was never used literally but always as an element displaced from its habitual meaning into another meaning to produce a shock between the usual definition at the point of departure and its new definition at the point of arrival. If a newspaper can become a bottle, that gives us something to think about in connection with both newspapers and bottles, too. This displaced object has entered a universe for which it was not made and where it retains, in a measure, its strangeness. And this strangeness was what we wanted to make people think about because we were quite aware that our world was becoming very strange and not exactly reassuring."

Pablo Picasso

For example, in Still Life with Chair Caning (1912), Picasso introduced into the work a piece of oilcloth printed with chair caning.

Georges Braque Glass, Carafe and Newspapers, 1914

 ViolinandSheetMusic1912.jpg (401385 bytes) Pablo Picasso, Violin and Sheet Music, 1912

Picasso, Pipe, Glass, Bottle of Vieux Marc

Picasso - Guitar and Violin

BottlePicasso.jpg (22730 bytes) Pablo Picasso, Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper, 1913, collage and pen and ink on blue paper, 46.7 x 62.5 cm, Tate Gallery, London.

 Guitar1913.jpg (385283 bytes) Pablo Picasso, Guitar, after March 31, 1913, pasted paper, charcoal, ink, and chalk on blue paper, mounted on ragboard, 66.4 x 49.6 cm, Museum of Modern Art, NY.

  Pablo Picasso,The Three Musicians (Musiciens aux masques) 1921.


On April 26th 1937, a massive air raid by the German Luftwaffe on the Basque town of Guernica in Northern Spain shocked the world. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the raid which became a major incident of the Spanish Civil War. The bombing prompted Picasso to begin painting his greatest masterpiece... Guernica.

Guernica 1937

The painting became a timely and prophetic vision of the Second World War and is now recognized as an international icon for peace.

UN conceals Picasso’s “Guernica” for Powell’s presentation

By David Walsh
8 February 2003

In an act with extraordinary historical resonance, United Nations officials covered up a tapestry reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s anti-war mural “Guernica” during US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5 presentation of the American case for war against Iraq.

Picasso’s painting commemorates a small Basque village bombed by German forces in April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The painter, in desolate black, white and grey, depicts a nightmarish scene of men, women, children and animals under bombardment. The twisted, writhing forms include images of a screaming mother holding a dead child, a corpse with wide-open eyes and a gored horse. Art historian Herbert Read described the work as “a cry of outrage and horror amplified by a great genius.”

The reproduction has hung outside the Security Council chamber at UN headquarters in New York since its donation by the estate of Nelson A. Rockefeller in 1985. As the council gathered to hear Powell on Wednesday, workers placed a blue curtain and flags of the council’s member countries in front of the tapestry.....


Loleil1921.jpg (68191 bytes) Francis Picabia, L'Oeil Cacodylate, 1921, oil on canvas, with collaged photographs, postcards and other papers, 148.6 x 117.4 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

  TheArtCritic19191920RaoulHausmann.jpg (581513 bytes) Raoul Hausmann, Untitled, undated (1919-1920), lithograph and photographic collage on paper, 31.8 x 25.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London. 

ABCD 1924 dada_siegt.jpg (217497 bytes) Dada Conquers 1920


Hurrah, die Butter ist Alle! John Heartfield

One of John Heartfield's more famous pieces, made in 1935 entitled Hurrah, die Butter ist Alle! (English: Hurray, the butter is gone!) was published on the frontpage of the AIZ in 1935. A parody of the aesthetics of propaganda, the photomontage shows a family at a kitchen table, where a nearby portrait of Hitler hangs and the wallpaper is emblazoned with swastikas. The family — mother, father, old woman, young man, baby, and dog — are attempting to eat pieces of metal, such as chains, bicycle handlebars, and rifles. Below, the title is written in large letters, in addition to a quote by Hermann Göring during food shortage. Translated, the quote reads: "Iron has always made a nation strong, butter and lard have only made the people fat".


Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters is one of the 20th Century’s best known collage artist. Born in Hannover, he studied art in Dresden then began to make collage work around the age of 30. It has been said that: He’d been denied membership in Berlin’s Club Dada for not being “political enough,” so shrugged his shoulders and formed the Dada sub-movement of Merz (a fragment of the word “Kommerz,” taken from a bank’s newspaper advertisement and incorporated into an early piece). Though Merz’ membership was limited to Schwitters, he often collaborated with other Dadaists.

The Nazi regime banned Schwitters’s work as “degenerate art” in 1937.


Revolving.jpg (136327 bytes) Kurt Schwitters Revolving [Das Kreisen]. 1919, Magic copy 2.jpg (507495 bytes) Kurt Schwitters, Magic, c. 1936-40,  

  Kurt Schwitters, Untitled (D'Cilly), 1942 Kurt Schwitters, The Baumer Picture 1920

Soap Bubble Set.jpg (71403 bytes) Joseph Cornell, Celestial Navigation, n.d., shadow box construction with wood, glasses, marbles, plaster head, painted cork ball, metal rods, nails, paper collage, tempera, and painted glass, 24.4. x 41.3 x 10.2 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

MAEWES_1lrg.jpg (428407 bytes) Salvador Dali Mae West 1934-1935

Lips.jpg (53755 bytes)

Mae West Sofa by Salvador Dali and Edward James

Conceived by Dali in 1936. 

Production took place in 1938, with James closely involved, choosing the fabrics and colors. Only five sofas are known to have been made and James kept them all.


RealGold1950Paolozzi copy.jpg (590064 bytes) Eduardo Paolozzi Real Gold (from Ten Collages from BUNK) 1950

Eduardo Paolozzi collage from BUNK

Eduardo Paolozzi I Was a Rich Man´s Plaything

hamilton-appealing.jpg (438373 bytes) Richard Hamilton, Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing, collage, 1956.


Tuesday1961PeterBlake.jpg (392878 bytes) Peter Blake Tuesday 1961 TheToyShop1962PeterBlake copy.jpg (686964 bytes)  Peter Blake The Toy Shop 1962 

Blake1967.jpg (845860 bytes) Peter Blake Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967 

Richard Hamilton The White Album

Rauschenburglarge.jpg (37246 bytes) Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, 1979, solvent transfer and fabric collage on paper, 31 x 22 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.

  Robert Rauschenberg

Rauschenberg has suggested that his choice of cardboard as a material was the result of his wish ‘to work in a material of waste and softness’.

  Cardbird III, V and VI

The Cardbird series is a tongue-in-cheek visual joke. It is in fact a printed mimic of cardboard constructions. The labour intensive process remains invisible to the viewer – the artist created a prototype cardboard construction which was then photographed and the image transferred to a lithographic press and printed before a final lamination onto cardboard backing. By choosing the most mundane of materials, Rauschenberg once again succeeds in a glamorous make-over of the most ordinary. The Cardbird series is an exploration of a new order of materials, a radical scrambling of the material hierarchy of Modernism.

Leo Kaplan Things I Like


David Hockney


David Graves Pembroke Studios London Tuesday 27th April 1982.jpg (123397 bytes) David Graves Pembroke Studios London Tuesday 27th April 1982, 1982 Composite Polaroid 51 3/4 x 26 1/4 in (131.4 x 66.7 cm) 

Kasmin Los Angeles 28th March 1982.jpg (125364 bytes)  Kasmin Los Angeles 28th March 1982, 1982 Composite Polaroid 41 3/4 x 29 3/4 in (106 x 75.6 cm)

This is called a photocollage rather than a photomontage, because it is more three-dimensional than a montage tends to be. 

  Hockney,David-The_Desk,_July_1st,_1984-1984.jpg (103932 bytes)  The Desk, July 1st, 1984, photo-collage, 1984.

David Hockney. Chair..jpg (108488 bytes) hockney-2-p.jpg (25126 bytes) Sitting in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 19, 1983.jpg (16193 bytes) Sitting in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 19, 1983 


Untitled-7.jpg (262744 bytes) Untitled-2.jpg (362698 bytes) My Mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire, Nov. 82 #4 1982 Photographic collage 47 1/2 x 27 1/2 in (120.7 x 69.9 cm) 

Hockney’s work has consistently examined the relationship between image and reality, space and perspective.

 “I’m interested in all kinds of pictures, however they are made, with cameras, with paint brushes, with computers, with anything,” said Hockney. “All of them are artifice—technology alters the way you make pictures.” 

In keeping with his philosophy, he has used faxes, laser prints, and color copies to create his signature intense colors. The shifts in color that occur in reproduction have also been an important aspect of his work.

Hockney has always been interested in photography. He first used it as preparation for his painting, but during the 1970s photography gained an independent role in his work. Using 35mm commercially processed color prints, Hockney created photocollages, which he called “joiners” until the mid 1980s. He compiled them to create a 'complete' picture from a series of individually photographed details. In the 1980s, Hockney primarily experimented with the Polaroid camera, making composite images of photographs arranged in a rectangular grid.....much as the earliest photographers had "composited" large scenes from multiple negatives. In the early practice, much care was given to seamless registration of the images, but in the '80s revival, small jumps of viewing angle came to be valued, by none more so than by Hockney.

His collage technique explores the mysteries and nuances between natural and camera vision. Although, his subject matter ranges from portraiture to still life, his style from representation to abstraction, Hockney uses photography to examine our perception of reality. Family, friends, and collaborators and his own residence, the pool, his dogs, and the California and Arizona landscape are seen in many of his photocollages.

 Hockney switched from SX-70 to regular 35mm negative-and-print and pasted the prints, hundreds of them in his larger compositions, onto a single background.

 Untitled-1.jpg (302455 bytes) Mother I, Yorkshire Moors, August 1985 #1 1985 Photo- collage 18 1/2 x 13 in (47 x 33 cm) 

Untitled-5.jpg (213194 bytes)  Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986 No. 2, photo-collage, 1986.

Hockney's works have strong links with Cubism, in that his motivation for producing them was to introduce three artistic elements which a single photograph cannot have, namely layered time, space and narrative. The first two of these are central Cubist themes. Hockney points out that a single photo expresses a single instant, and so cannot represent time or narrative.

Hockney reflected extensively on this process as connecting to the Cubist sense of multiple angles and especially of movement. These "multiples" convey a strong sense of movement, Hockney argued, in that you the viewer keep adjusting your imagined viewpoint as your eye travels from print to print. And of course by this means you can build up a single image that is many times wider in angle of view than the camera lens. (The viewing angle of a standard 55mm lens for a 35mm format camera is about 45 degrees. Wide angle lenses increase the angle of view to about 75 degrees without obvious distortion, but the human angle of view, with eye movement, is about 180 degrees.) This portrait of his mother illustrates the technique at close range; his famous multiple of Teresa Russell nude illustrates it at medium range, and the gigantic and spectacular "Pear Blossom Highway" shows its capacity for panorama (and desert shimmer). 

Further Reading

Hockney on Photography (Paul Joyce) - Jonathan Cape 1988
David Hockney, You Make the Picture (Paul Melia) - Manchester City Art Galleries 1997


museum09.jpg (68487 bytes) Yves Klein, Leap into the Void, 1960, photomontage, silver gelatin print, 350 x 270 mm.

ScottMutterUntitled (Forest)1975.jpg (55876 bytes) Scott Mutter, Untitled (Forest), 1975, gelatine-silver print photomontage, 11 x 14 inches, American Museum of Photography. 

Scott Mutter

This forest has a parquet floor. "While others use the techniques of photomontage for shock effect, Mutter creates worlds that can best be described as 'hyper-realistic.' "

s1.jpg (439663 bytes) S26.jpg (530057 bytes) dmc_1.jpg (171036 bytes) dmc_5.jpg (126745 bytes) dmc_7.jpg (184035 bytes) LIFE_LINES.jpg (172319 bytes) emperor.jpg (132252 bytes) Dave McKean


Carol Golemboski Blind Bird, It Is So Dark, Safe, Numerology