Simply defined, collage is a composition created by gluing elements to a flat surface
The word collage comes from the French: coller, “to paste or glue”.
The history of collage goes back centuries, back to the very invention of paper. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque brought collage to the forefront of art in the early 20th century, adding printed materials to their paintings and drawings. Many contemporary artists use collage techniques in their work.
Ephemera that speaks to the artist—old documents, letters, cancelled stamps, maps, postcards, discarded book pages, wallpaper, natural materials, fabrics, recycled artworks—become fodder for the creative process, making collage a compelling medium for both creator and viewer.
The artist creates a collage by layering and arranging these materials, and possibly combining with paint, ink, graphite, or other materials. The term mixed media is often used to categorize collage art.
Collage may be representational or abstract. Collage shares the formal elements of other art forms: composition, center of interest, shape, texture, color, light value. The addition of found materials charge the work with deeper layers of personal, social, political, or philosophic meaning. The best collages express tension or dialogue between the materials and the artist’s intuition.
The qualities that distinguish collage from other art forms—short-term nature of ephemera, aesthetic value of castoffs, structure and order, cultural recycling, creating something of value from what is perceived as worthless—make collage particularly relevant in today’s fractured world.
Collage is art that can be read like a story. When disparate materials and images are juxtaposed in a collage, they create a new whole, greater than its parts.
Collage is visual poetry.