Photograph by Herbert Loebel

THE COLLAGE ENVIRONMENT

For Simon Rodia, an immigrant tilesetter living in Watts, a slum section of Los Angeles, to have constructed his wondrously colorful towers of concrete and scrap (page 77), a knowledge of cubist papiers collés, the collages of Schwitters, or surrealist objects was, to say the least, unnecessary. No mode of creation is more direct or naturally arrived at than the accumulation and agglomeration of materials found close at hand. Indeed, some of the finest assemblages are the work of primitives and folk artists. Without evidence, therefore, one should not assume an artist to be familiar with his apparent precursors. On the other hand, one does not expect people as sophisticated as Duchamp, Miró, Cornell, Nevelson, or Rauschenberg to be innocent of history; there is truth in Robert Motherwell's statement that "every intelligent painter carries the whole culture of modern painting in his head."70 But art does not always derive from art. Artists draw sustenance from everywhere: from the totality -- moral, intellectual, and temporal as well as physical and sensory -- of their environment and experience. In the desire to "do something big," which led Simon Rodia to thumb through the Encyclopaedia Britannica seeking out biographies of conquerors and heroes, he is surely a man of his time; and in his decision to realize this ambition by transforming the copious waste of an industrial society into

-72-

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The Art of Assemblage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword and Acknowledgments 6
  • Introduction 9
  • The Liberation of Words 13
  • The Liberation of Objects 21
  • The Collage Environment 72
  • The Realism and Poetry of Assemblage 81
  • Attitudes and Issues 87
  • Notes 150
  • Photograph Credits 152
  • Catalogue of the Exhibition 153
  • Assemblange: A Working Bibliography 166
  • Index 174
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