1. See page 48.
2. Max Ernst, Beyond Painting, New York, Wittenborn, Schultz, 1948, p. 22.
3. Alfred H. Barr Jr., Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1946, p. 79.
4. Loc. cit. Picasso Notre avenir est dans l'air (Zervos vol. 2, pt. 2, p. 321) is very close to the Still Life with Chair Caning in form.
5. The French word collage, after the verb coller, means "pasting, sticking, or gluing," as in the application of wallpaper. As a method of picture-making used by modern artists, its "invention" is credited to Picasso, and that of papier collé, or pasted paper, to Braque in his Compotier et verre, September 1912. (See Douglas Cooper, G. Braque (exhibition catalogue), Arts Council of Great Britain, 1956, p. 35.) John Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis, 1907-1914, New York, Wittenborn, 1959, pp. 102 ff., gives a detailed account of the beginnings of modern collage and the addition of such extraneous materials as oilcloth, mirrors, postage stamps, etc., to paintings and drawings. Golding notes (p. 104) that collage was first discussed in print by Maurice Raynal in the Section d'Or, a periodical that appeared (for one issue) in connection with the cubist exhibition of 1912.

Little can be said to distinguish the terms collage and papier collé except that the latter is narrower both technically and historically, referring only to paper and (in the usage I prefer, at least) to paper collages of the cubist movement. (See entries in the Encyclopaedia of the Arts, New York, Philosophical Library, 1946, and the Dictionary of Modern Painting, New York, Tudor, [ 1955].

It is, of course, an error to say that the cubists invented pasting as a method of picture-making. Dates for its origin can be pushed backward endlessly. Alfred Barr has called my attention to a drawing by Picasso of 1908 ( Zervos, Picasso, vol. 2, pt. 1, p. 34) which includes a fragment of pasted paper, probably to make a correction. Penrose notes that Picasso's father used cutouts on his canvases (as de Kooning did for his "Women") to try out new ideas ( Picasso: His Life and Work, London, Victor Gollancz, and New York, Harper, 1958, p. 171). Valentines, postcards, and folk art of various kinds incorporating pasted elements, as well as pictures and objects made of butterfly wings, feathers, shells, etc., were common much earlier. Indeed, variously stamped letters, passports, and official documents can be looked at as a form of unintentional collage. Herta Wescher ( Art Aujourd'hui, vol. 5, no. 1, Feb. 1954, p. 3) illustrates a Japanese papier collé, used as a background for calligraphy, of the tenth century.

As Jean Dubuffet realized in 1953, the term collage is not broad enough to cover the diversity of modern composite art. "Il m'a semblé," he wrote to me in a letter of April 21, 1961, "que le mot 'collages' ne devait pas être considéré comme un terme générique désignant n'importe quel ouvrage ou intervient de la colle, mais comme un terme historique réservé aux collages faits dans la période 1910/ 1920par les dadaïstes, Picasso et Braque, etc. Ces travaux participaient d'une certaine 'humeur' qui me semble liée au mot, tout aussi bien que le mot 'symboliste' est lié à un certain climat d'époque et provoquerait des malentendus si on le réemployait pour des poémes faits dans un autre temps quand bien même ceux-ci feraient usage de symboles."

The term "assemblage," used by Dubuffet (see page 93), was adopted for this book and exhibition out of necessity, as a generic concept that would include all forms of composite art and modes of juxtaposition. In both French and English "assemblage" denotes "the fitting together of parts and pieces," and can apply to both flat and three-dimensional forms. Both as verb and noun, moreover, this word repeatedly occurs in the literature of modern art. Certain of the two-dimensional modes and methods it denotes follow:

Décollage is the opposite of collage: "ungluing," "unsticking," or "taking off." It refers to works made by removing materials already pasted, as in the décollages of Austin Cooper or Gwyther Irwin, and the affiches lacerées, or torn posters, of the Parisian "new realists." Découpage (literally "cutting") is a mode of decorating painted furniture with cutouts of flowers, fruit, etc., but the term is also used to denote cleanly cut collage of new paper (not considered in this book) such as that of Matisse, Taeuber-Arp, Sonia Delaunay, et al.

"Photomontage" (assemblages of photographs made by pasting or other means) has been practiced, both for practical reasons and as "trick photography" since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The term gained its present meaning through its use by the German dadas for collages of photographs and other illustrative material, beginning before 1920. With an ironic intent, they appropriated the German verb montieren, a synonym of our verb "to assemble," and applied, as in one of our usages, to the mounting and erection of machinery. The dadas' expansion of this meaning survives not only in the common term "photomontage," but also in the application of the term "montage" to the film. (For a lucid discussion of montage see Sergei Eisenstein, The Film Sense, New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1942. For the dada use of photomontage, John Heartfield , Photomontagen zur Zeitgeschichte, Zurich, Kultur und Vol, 1945.)

6. Barr, op. cit., p. 87.
7. See note no. 5.
8. See Alan Bowness, "A note on 'Manet's Compositional Difficulties,'" The Burlington Magazine, vol. 103, no. 699, Jan. 1961, pp. 276-277.
9. See George Heard Hamilton, Manet and his Critics, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1954, p. 115.
10. Roger Fry, Cézanne: A Studv of his Development, London, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Hogarth Press, 1927, p. 47.
11. The term Gestalt (literally "form," "shape," or "figure"), used in Germany by Charles von Ehrenfels ca. 1890, was the basis for a school of psychology, of which Koffka and Köhler became the leading spokesmen, which asserts that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that each element in a given pattern is altered by its participation in a relational unity.
12. Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, Artists on Art, New York, Pantheon, 1945, p. 375.
13. See Marcel Jean, The History of Surrealist Painting, New York, Grove Press, 1960, p. 12.
14. Roger Fry, tr., The Poems of Mallarmé, New York, New Directions, 1951, p. 290.
15. Wallace Fowlie, A Guide to Contemporary French Literature, New York, Meridian, 1957, p. 100.
16. Charles Mauron, in Fry, Mallarmé, p. 284.


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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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