The process of collage—of adhering paper or objects to another surface—can be traced back centuries. In Modern art, the idea of incorporating existing, common materials had its humble beginnings with Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. In 1912, Braque bought a roll of factory printed oilcloth (early version of contact paper) with a woodgrain pattern at a hardware store. He then glued it to his charcoal drawing of a guitar to simulate its wood texture rather than drawing the woodgrain. That same year, Picasso used the same material with a chair-caning pattern, along with an actual rope as an oval framing device, in Still-Life with Chair Caning to create one of his first documented collage/assemblage works on canvas.
Though the basic techniques have remained somewhat unchanged, source materials and media have varied and expanded over the last century. Artists have and currently use collage, montage, and assemblage broadly with diverse styles. From manipulating pictorial space to exploring various concepts, the works can be humorous, political, satirical, socially critical, or simply visually stunning.
What Lies Beneath presents the work of nine contemporary artists who utilize the mediums of collage, montage (photographs or film), and assemblage (found objects). Mass-produced print imagery and utilitarian objects—fueled by voracious consumerism—have created an endless supply of source materials for these artists in their productions of collages, montages, and assemblages. Though diverse in appearance, all of the works in this exhibition share a commonality of providing layered meanings, consciously or sub-consciously, embedded by the artists. The full potential of each work is revealed by the viewers’ efforts to discover “what lies beneath.”
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website