What is Collage?
Collage is an art form in which images and/or objects are combined in one piece
of artwork. The term “collage” comes from the French word coller, which means
Closely related to collage is assemblage, in which three-dimensional objects are
combined in pieces of art.
ArtLex (www.artlex.com), an online art resource, defines collage as “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.”
Paper items that are collected and incorporated into collage are called
“ephemera.” The collection of various ephemera is a popular hobby, and
numerous organizations exist for people interest in general ephemera as well as
particular ephemera such as greeting cards, postcards, tickets, and game
pieces. Check out www.ephemerasociety.org for more information.
Well-Known Collage Artists
Nick Bantock, author of series of collage-like books beginning
with Griffin and Sabine
Romare Bearden, African-American Harlem Renaissance Artist,
Ross Palmer Beecher, Seattle collage/assemblage artist
Robert Rauchenberg, 1925—
Cubist artists, including Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges
Braque (1882-1963), are often credited with introducing collage as
an art form.
French artists Henri Matisse (1869-1954) also added collage to his
Other Collage artists
•Maureen McCabe • •Eugene J. •Mimmo
•Nick Bantock • Martin Rotella
•Amadeo de Souza •Arthur G. •Henri Matisse •Anne Ryan
Cardoso Dove •Robert •Kurt
•V. Balu •Marcel Motherwell Schwitters
•Romare Bearden Duchamp •Joseph •Gino
•Geeta Chaudhuri •Max Ernst Nechvatal Severini
• •Juan Gris •Robert Nickle •Jonathan
•Peter Blake •Raymond •Fred Otnes Talbot
•Umberto Boccioni Hains •Pablo Picasso •Lenore
•Rita Boley Bolaffio • •Francis Picabia Tawney
•Georges Braque • •Robert •Cecil
•Alberto Burri •Hannah Rauschenberg Touchon
Hoch •Man Ray •Scott
•David •Matthew Rose Treleaven
Start with a sketch. You can always change it, but it helps to have a general
idea of where you’re heading. Think about a color scheme (use a color
wheel if necessary) and consider the materials you have to work with.
Think carefully about the background and begin there. Collage has depth,
and that depth begins with the very first layer. Select a background paper
and embellish it as needed with rubber stamps or stencils.
Choose a focal point and design around that.
Think about pleasing your audience.
People tend to enjoy art with multiple dimensions and textures: How can
•something that hangs down?
•something that opens up?
•something see-through, like a window or a hole?
•something to pull, twist, turn, or undo?
Stuff to save…a few examples:
old greeting cards and postcards
game pieces and scorecards
any foreign ephemera—train schedules, bus tickets, etc.
plane and train itineraries
old books that can be ripped and disassembled
fortune cookie fortunes
postcards (easy to find at thrift, antique, and bookstores)
candy wrappers (especially unusual or foreign)
maps (outdated maps are great for backgrounds)
old magazines (look in the discard pile at your local library)
wine bottle labels
match books and boxes
Collage Projects With Students
At the beginning of the year, have students create collages about themselves using words and images they’ve chosen
that represent various aspects of their personalities and lives.
After reading a story, have students brainstorm images from that story and then draw and gather them from magazines
and other sources. Individuals and groups can create collage with the images.
Have students create boxes about themselves: the inside contains words, images, and objects that represent their
more private selves, and the outside shows things people know about them.
Make a picture or shape out of random torn images.
Using tissue paper, create a collage that is framed by something else (like a clothes hanger or a cardstock frame) that
can be place in the window for light to shine through).
Make a collage book: A spiral bound book divided from top to bottom into three sections, the pages of which turn
separately. The top pages are all heads, the middles are mid-sections, and the bottoms are legs and feet.
Teaching colors: have students use magazines to collect images of a certain color.
Using old nature magazines, have students invent weird beasts by combining parts of images of other animals
Take a look at some collages here at this virtual
Collage artist Claudine Hellmuth shares here work here:
Ephemera Society: www.ephemerasocietyorg
Creative Portal has all kinds of links to creative projects and
The International Museum of Collage, Assemblage, and Construction