For archive of his work see: http://www.belltoons.co.uk.
His current work and interviews with him are available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk
“It isn’t simply a question of getting the likeness: you have to discover the character behind the face”.
History of caricature and cartoons
His general approach
In this interview Bell discusses his sketchbooks from the party conferences. His approach to exaggerating physical characteristics is pretty uncompromising. Sometimes this has a political point about hypocrisy ‘people who about complete and utter bullshit’ and ‘pure Blair bollocks’. Highlighting what he sees as a lot of empty speeches and posturing. But sometimes this does appear unnecessarily cruel on a superficial physical level, and perpetuating well-worn stereotypes. But he has a very acute observation of the different ways people talk and move. His very dynamic quick sketches use a combination of ink, watercolour and what seem to be pastel pencils.
Boris and Tory party
This interview about his series of cartoons about the hypocrisy and awful impacts of the Iraq War is very powerful. Here the caricatures are combined with trenchant symbolism with a strong underlying message. This makes the caricatures meaningful rather than simply physical distortion of demented eyes and big ears. The types of distortion are very varied depending on the point of the other elements of the cartoon.
Royal wedding. Portraits vs caricature
The following video discusses some of the issues involved when he tries to satirise people he actually agrees with.
The Power of the Political Cartoon
James Gillray (1757 – 1815) was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810. His caricatures are almost all in etching, some also with aquatint, and a few using stipple technique.
James Gillray website Website launched in June 2015 on the 200th anniversary of Gillray’s death as a celebration of his life and works. It includes a chronological catalogue of Gillray’s known prints, a list of major museums and archives where his work can be seen, information about him and his working methods and techniques, and links to short biographical sketches of some of the people he caricatured.
Nearly 1000 caricatures have been attributed to him; while some consider him the author of as many as 1600 or 1700. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, “Gillray is as invaluable to the student of English manners as to the political student, attacking the social follies of the time with scathing satire; and nothing escapes his notice, not even a trifling change of fashion in dress. The great tact Gillray displays in hitting on the ludicrous side of any subject is only equalled by the exquisite finish of his sketches—the finest of which reach an epic grandeur and Miltonic sublimity of conception.”
His sketches are real works of art. The ideas embodied in some of them are sublime and poetically magnificent in their intensity of meaning, while the forthrightness—which some have called coarseness—which others display is characteristic of the general freedom of treatment common in all intellectual departments in the 18th century.
For detailed discussion of many of the caricatures see the many You Tube videos
The political caricatures comprise an important and invaluable component of the history extant of the latter part of the reign of George III. They were circulated not only in Britain but also throughout Europe, and exerted a powerful influence both in Britain and abroad. George III, George’s wife Queen Charlotte, the Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent, then King George IV), Fox, Pitt the Younger, Burke and Napoleon Bonaparte are the most prominent figures. In 1788 appeared two fine caricatures by Gillray. Blood on Thunder fording the Red Sea represents Lord Thurlow carrying Warren Hastings through a sea of gore: Hastings looks very comfortable, and is carrying two large bags of money. Market-Day pictures the ministerialists of the time as cattle for sale.
He was not a keen political adherent of either the Whig or the Tory party. His caricatures satirized members of all sides of the political spectrum.
George III: A number of his most trenchant satires are directed against George III, who, after examining some of Gillray’s sketches, said “I don’t understand these caricatures.” Gillray revenged himself for this utterance by his caricature entitled, A Connoisseur Examining a Cooper, which he is doing by means of a candle on a “save-all”; so that the sketch satirises at once the king’s pretensions to knowledge of art and his miserly habits.
Gillray could also be incredibly subtle, and puncture vanity with a remarkably deft approach. The outstanding example of this is his print Fashionable Contrasts;—or—The Duchess’s little Shoe yeilding [sic] to the Magnitude of the Duke’s Foot. This was a devastating image aimed at the ridiculous sycophancy directed by the press towards Frederica Charlotte Ulrica, Duchess of York, and the supposed daintiness of her feet. The print showed only the feet and ankles of the Duke and Duchess of York, in an obviously copulatory position, with the Duke’s feet enlarged and the Duchess’s feet drawn very small. This print silenced forever the sycophancy of the press regarding the union of the Duke and Duchess.
Among Gillray’s best satires on George III are: Farmer George and his Wife, two companion plates, in one of which the king is toasting muffins for breakfast, and in the other the queen is frying sprats; The Anti-Saccharites, where the royal pair propose to dispense with sugar, to the great horror of the family; A Connoisseur Examining a Cooper; the paired plates A Voluptuary under the Horrors of Digestion and Temperance enjoying a Frugal Meal, satirising the excesses of the Prince Regent (later George IV of the United Kingdom) and the miserliness of his father, George III of the United Kingdom respectively; Royal Affability; A Lesson in Apple Dumplings; and The Pigs Possessed.
The Loss of the Faro Bank, Lady Buckinghamshire is told by her cowed husband that a theft of money has taken place; Charles James Fox (1749–1806), a prominent Whig politician of the time, is seated at the card table hoping not to be found out.The enduring quality of this piece lies in the visual metaphors and symbolism Gillray has used: the locks on the door and the visual contrast between the opulence and gambling inside and the panic-stricken husband outside. But it’s the people on the inside that have caused the problem, not those locked out.
French Revolution Gillray took a conservative stance; and he issued caricature after caricature ridiculing the French and Napoleon (usually using Jacobin), and glorifying John Bull. A number of these were published in the Anti-Jacobin Review.
Other famous works include: The Bridal Night; The Apotheosis of Hoche, which concentrates the excesses of the French Revolution in one view; The Nursery with Britannia reposing in Peace; The First Kiss these Ten Years (1803), another satire on the peace, which is said to have greatly amused Napoleon; The Hand-Writing upon the Wall; The Confederated Coalition, a swipe at the coalition which superseded the Addington ministry; Uncorking Old Sherry; Making Decent; Comforts of a Bed of Roses; View of the Hustings in Covent Garden; Phaethon Alarmed; and Pandora opening her Box.
The miscellaneous series of caricatures, although they have scarcely the historical importance of the political series, are more readily intelligible, and are even more amusing. Among the finest are: Shakespeare Sacrificed; Flemish Characters (two plates); Two-Penny Whist (which features an image of Hannah Humphrey); Oh that this too solid flesh would melt; Sandwich-Carrots; The Gout; Comfort to the Corns; Begone Dull Care; The Cow-Pock, which gives humorous expression to the popular dread of vaccination; Dilletanti Theatricals; and Harmony before Matrimony and Matrimonial Harmonics—two exceedingly good sketches in violent contrast to each other.
The name of Gillray’s publisher and print seller, Miss Hannah Humphrey—whose shop was first at 227 Strand, then in New Bond Street, then in Old Bond Street, and finally in St James’s Street—is inextricably associated with that of the caricaturist himself. Gillray lived with Miss (often called Mrs) Humphrey during the entire period of his fame. It is believed that he several times thought of marrying her, and that on one occasion the pair were on their way to the church, when Gillray said: “This is a foolish affair, methinks, Miss Humphrey. We live very comfortably together; we had better let well alone.”
Gillray’s eyesight began to fail in 1806. He began wearing spectacles but they were unsatisfactory. Unable to work to his previous high standards, James Gillray became depressed and started drinking heavily. He produced his last print in September 1809. As a result of his heavy drinking Gillray suffered from gout throughout his later life.
His last work, from a design by Bunbury, is entitled Interior of a Barber’s Shop in Assize Time, and is dated 1811. While he was engaged on it he became mad, although he had occasional intervals of sanity, which he employed on his last work. The approach of madness may have been hastened by his intemperate habits.
In July 1811 Gillray attempted to kill himself by throwing himself out of an attic window above Humphrey’s shop in St James’s Street. Gillray lapsed into insanity and was looked after by Hannah Humphrey until his death on 1 June 1815 in London; he was buried in St James’s churchyard, Piccadilly.
See also Caricature
Satirical illustration, often used in newspapers and magazines as a form of social and political commentary, centres around the use of caricature, metaphor and humour to hit its targets. Satirical illustration is always of the moment it was created. It comments on contemporary events and to appreciate the message you need to read the image with some knowledge of what’s been going on.
There is a rich history of satirical illustration and political cartooning in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, especially from the eighteenth century onwards.
Steve Bell, the contemporary political satirist who produces the If… cartoon strip and other editorial pieces for The Guardian, regularly makes reference to the political satire of earlier times by re-working it with a contemporary twist. By doing this he’s also making satirical references to the past – making a link between the contemporary moment and a similar (or different) historical one.
Look at the work of William Hogarth, James Gillray, George Cruikshank or other eighteenthcentury political satirists and pick out examples you think could be successfully re-worked for a contemporary audience. Strip away the layers of eighteenth-century meaning to establish the core symbolism and metaphors that make the satire work. Identify what would you replace with what to make this work for a contemporary setting.
Steve Bell History of caricature and cartoons
My Drawings expressed my despair, hate and disillusionment, I drew drunkards; puking men; men with clenched fists cursing at the moon. … I drew a man, face filled with fright, washing blood from his hands … I drew lonely little men fleeing madly through empty streets. I drew a cross-section of tenement house: through one window could be seen a man attacking his wife; through another, two people making love; from a third hung a suicide with body covered by swarming flies. I drew soldiers without noses; war cripples with crustacean-like steel arms; two medical soldiers putting a violent infantryman into a strait-jacket made of a horse blanket … I drew a skeleton dressed as a recruit being examined for military duty. I also wrote poetry. — George Grosz
George Grosz (July 26, 1893 – July 6, 1959) was a German artist known especially for his caricatural drawings and paintings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during the Weimar Republic.
George Grosz was born Georg Ehrenfried Groß (German: [ɡʀoːs]) in Berlin, Germany, the son of a pub owner. His parents were devoutly Lutheran. Grosz grew up in the Pomeranian town of Stolp (Słupsk). In 1916 he changed the spelling of his name to George Grosz as a protest against German nationalism and out of a romantic enthusiasm for America which he retained for the rest of his life. In January 1917 he was drafted for service, but in May he was discharged as permanently unfit.
In the last months of 1918, Grosz joined the Spartacist League, which was renamed the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in December 1918. He was arrested during the Spartakus uprising in January 1919, but escaped using fake identification documents. In 1921 Grosz was accused of insulting the army, which resulted in a 300 German Mark fine and the destruction of the collection Gott mit uns (“God with us”), a satire on German society.
In 1922 Grosz traveled to Russia with the writer Martin Andersen Nexø. Upon their arrival in Murmansk they were briefly arrested as spies; after their credentials were approved they were allowed to meet with Grigory Zinoviev, Anatoly Lunacharsky, and Vladimir Lenin. Grosz’s six-month stay in the Soviet Union left him unimpressed by what he had seen. He ended his membership in the KPD in 1923, although his political positions were little changed.
In 1928 he was prosecuted for blasphemy after publishing anticlerical drawings, such as one depicting prisoners under assault from a minister who vomits grenades and weapons onto them, and another showing Christ coerced into military service. According to historian David Nash, Grosz “publicly stated that he was neither Christian nor pacifist, but was actively motivated by an inner need to create these pictures”, and was finally acquitted after two appeals. By contrast, in 1942 Time magazine identified Grosz as a pacifist.
Bitterly anti-Nazi, Grosz left Germany shortly before Hitler came to power. In June 1932, he accepted an invitation to teach the summer semester at the Art Students League of New York. In October 1932, Grosz returned to Germany, but on January 12, 1933 he and his family emigrated to America. Grosz became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938, and made his home in Bayside, New York.
In America, Grosz determined to make a clean break with his past, and changed his style and subject matter.In the 1930s he taught at the Art Students League, where one of his students was Romare Bearden, who was influenced by his style of collage. He continued to exhibit regularly, and in 1946 he published his autobiography, A Little Yes and a Big No. In the 1950s he opened a private art school at his home and also worked as Artist in Residence at the Des Moines Art Center. Grosz was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician in 1950. In 1954 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Though he had US citizenship, he resolved to return to Berlin, where he died on July 6, 1959 from the effects of falling down a flight of stairs after a night of drinking.
Although Grosz made his first oil paintings in 1912 while still a student, his earliest oils that can be identified today date from 1916. By 1914, Grosz worked in a style influenced by Expressionism and Futurism, as well as by popular illustration, graffiti, and children’s drawings. Sharply outlined forms are often treated as if transparent. The City (1916–17) was the first of his many paintings of the modern urban scene. Other examples include the apocalyptic Explosion (1917), Metropolis (1917), and The Funeral, a 1918 painting depicting a mad funeral procession.
In his drawings, usually in pen and ink which he sometimes developed further with watercolor, Grosz did much to create the image most have of Berlin and the Weimar Republic in the 1920s. Corpulent businessmen, wounded soldiers, prostitutes, sex crimes and orgies were his great subjects (for example, see Fit for Active Service). His draftsmanship was excellent although the works for which he is best known adopt a deliberately crude form of caricature. His oeuvre includes a few absurdist works, such as Remember Uncle August the Unhappy Inventor which has buttons sewn on it, and also includes a number of erotic artworks.
After his emigration to the USA in 1933, Grosz “sharply rejected [his] previous work, and caricature in general.” In place of his earlier corrosive vision of the city, he now painted conventional nudes and many landscape watercolors. More acerbic works, such as Cain, or Hitler in Hell (1944), were the exception. In his autobiography, he wrote: “A great deal that had become frozen within me in Germany melted here in America and I rediscovered my old yearning for painting. I carefully and deliberately destroyed a part of my past.” Although a softening of his style had been apparent since the late 1920s, Grosz’s work assumed a more sentimental tone in America, a change generally seen as a decline. His late work never achieved the critical success of his Berlin years.
From 1947 to 1959, George Grosz lived in Huntington, New York, where he taught painting at the Huntington Township Art League. It is said by locals that he used what was to become his most famous painting, Eclipse of the Sun, to pay for a car repair bill, in his relative penury. The painting was later acquired by house painter Tom Constantine to settle a debt of $104.00. The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington purchased the painting in 1968 for $15,000.00, raising the money by public subscription. As Eclipse of the Sun portrays the warmongering of arms manufacturers, this painting became a destination of protesters of the Viet Nam War in Heckscher Park (where the museum is sited) in the late 1960s and early 70s.
In 2006, the Heckscher proposed selling Eclipse of the Sun at its then-current appraisal of approximately $19,000,000.00 to pay for repairs and renovations to the building. There was such public outcry that the museum decided not to sell, and announced plans to create a dedicated space for display of the painting in the renovated museum.
George Grosz’s art influenced other New Objectivity artists such as Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Anton Räderscheidt, and Georg Scholz. In the United States, the artists influenced by his work included the social realists Ben Shahn and William Gropper.
In 1960, Grosz was the subject of the Oscar-nominated short film George Grosz’ Interregnum. He is fictionalized as “Fritz Falke” in Arthur R.G. Solmssen‘s novel A Princess in Berlin (1980). In 2002, actor Kevin McKidd portrayed Grosz in a supporting role as an eager artist seeking exposure in Max, regarding Adolf Hitler‘s youth.
The Grosz estate filed a lawsuit in 1995 against the Manhattan art dealer Serge Sabarsky, arguing that Sabarsky had deprived the estate of appropriate compensation for the sale of hundreds of Grosz works he had acquired. In the suit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the Grosz estate claims that Sabarsky secretly acquired 440 Grosz works for himself, primarily drawings and watercolors produced in Germany in the 1910s and 20s. The lawsuit was settled in summer in 2006.
In 2003 the Grosz family initiated a legal battle against the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, asking that three paintings be returned. According to documents, the paintings were sold to the Nazis after Grosz fled the country in 1933. The museum never settled the claim, arguing that a three-year statute of limitations in bringing such a claim had expired. It is well documented that the Nazis stole thousands of paintings during World War II and many heirs of German painters continue to fight powerful museums to reclaim such works.
John Heartfield exhibition : “Heartfield’s montages did not—like a well-told joke – simply combine picture and text in a provoking manner. For him, montage was more a symbolic form in which, apart from photos and texts, tonal values, the colors and structure of the material, the precisely calculated organization of the visual plane, and the imaginary visual space devised by means of retouching produced many levels of meaning. ”
John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld; 19 June 1891 – 26 April 1968) was an artist and a pioneer in the use of art as a political weapon.
Heartfield produced the first political photomontages and these became his main form of expression. In 1916, John Heartfield and George Grosz experimented with pasting pictures together, a form of art later named photomontage.
He is best known for the 240 political art photomontages he created from 1930 to 1938 as covers for the Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ, Workers’ Illustrated Newspaper) satirising Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to expose fascism and The Third Reich. AIZ was a popular weekly whose circulation (as large as 500,000 copies at its height) rivaled any magazine in Germany during the nineteen thirties. Most copies of the AIZ were sold at newsstands. His anti-fascist art mocked Hitler, fascism, and The Third Reich on major street corners throughout Berlin where Heartfield lived until he barely escaped assassination by the SS in April, 1933. They were distributed using rotogravure, an engraving process whereby pictures, designs, and words are engraved into the printing plate or printing cylinder.
He was a prolific producer of stage sets and book jackets. He created book jackets for authors such as Upton Sinclair, as well as stage sets for such noted playwrights as Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator.
In 1967, he visited Britain and began preparing a retrospective exhibition of his work, “photomontages”, which was subsequently completed by his widow Gertrud and the Academy of Arts, Berlin, and shown at the ICA in London in 1969.
John Heartfield died on April 26, 1968 in East Berlin, German Democratic Republic. He was buried close to Brecht’s former home.
While many illustrators have continued to use the simple materials of pen and wash, line and watercolour, established during the eighteenth century as a way to draw caricatures, others have explored the possibility of collage and photomontage as a way of directly using the image of their subjects. Using collage can be quicker and more direct, especially if caricature is not your thing, but accessing source material can be harder and if you’re publishing your work you can run into all sorts of copyright issues.
Collage (from the French: coller, “to glue”; French pronunciation: [kɔ.laʒ]) is a technique of an art production, primarily used in the visual arts, where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.
A collage may sometimes include magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbons, paint, bits of colored or handmade papers, portions of other artwork or texts, photographs and other found objects, glued to a piece of paper or canvas. The origins of collage can be traced back hundreds of years, but this technique made a dramatic reappearance in the early 20th century as an art form of novelty.
Techniques of collage were first used at the time of the invention of paper in China, around 200 BC. The use of collage, however, wasn’t used by many people until the 10th century in Japan, when calligraphers began to apply glued paper, using texts on surfaces, when writing their poems. The technique of collage appeared in medieval Europe during the 13th century. Gold leaf panels started to be applied in Gothic cathedrals around the 15th and 16th centuries. Gemstones and other precious metals were applied to religious images, icons, and also, to coats of arms. An 18th-century example of collage art can be found in the work of Mary Delany. In the 19th century, collage methods also were used among hobbyists for memorabilia (e.g. applied to photo albums) and books (e.g. Hans Christian Andersen, Carl Spitzweg). Many institutions have attributed the beginnings of the practice of collage to Picasso and Braque in 1912, however, early Victorian photocollage suggest collage techniques were practiced in the early 1860s. Many institutions recognize these works as memorabilia for hobbyists, though they functioned as a facilitator of Victorian aristocratic collective portraiture, proof of female erudition, and presented a new mode of artistic representation that questioned the way in which photography is truthful. In 2009, curator Elizabeth Siegel organized the exhibition: Playing with Pictures  at the Art Institute Chicago to acknowledge collage works by Alexandra of Denmark and Mary Georgina Filmer among others. The exhibition later traveled to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Gallery of Ontario.
Despite the pre-twentieth-century use of collage-like application techniques, some art authorities argue that collage, properly speaking, did not emerge until after 1900, in conjunction with the early stages of modernism.
For example, the Tate Gallery‘s online art glossary states that collage “was first used as an artists’ technique in the twentieth century.”. According to the Guggenheim Museum‘s online art glossary, collage is an artistic concept associated with the beginnings of modernism, and entails much more than the idea of gluing something onto something else. The glued-on patches which Braque and Picasso added to their canvases offered a new perspective on painting when the patches “collided with the surface plane of the painting.” In this perspective, collage was part of a methodical reexamination of the relation between painting and sculpture, and these new works “gave each medium some of the characteristics of the other,” according to the Guggenheim essay. Furthermore, these chopped-up bits of newspaper introduced fragments of externally referenced meaning into the collision: “References to current events, such as the war in the Balkans, and to popular culture enriched the content of their art.” This juxtaposition of signifiers, “at once serious and tongue-in-cheek,” was fundamental to the inspiration behind collage: “Emphasizing concept and process over end product, collage has brought the incongruous into meaningful congress with the ordinary.”
Collage in the modernist sense began with Cubist painters Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. According to some sources, Picasso was the first to use the collage technique in oil paintings. According to the Guggenheim Museum‘s online article about collage, Braque took up the concept of collage itself before Picasso, applying it to charcoal drawings. Picasso adopted collage immediately after (and was perhaps indeed the first to use collage in paintings, as opposed to drawings):
“It was Braque who purchased a roll of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and began cutting out pieces of the paper and attaching them to his charcoal drawings. Picasso immediately began to make his own experiments in the new medium.”
Surrealist artists have made extensive use of collage. Cubomania is a collage made by cutting an image into squares which are then reassembled automatically or at random. Collages produced using a similar, or perhaps identical, method are called etrécissements by Marcel Mariën from a method first explored by Mariën. Surrealist games such as parallel collage use collective techniques of collage making.
The Sidney Janis Gallery held an early Pop Art exhibit called the New Realist Exhibition in November 1962, which included works by the American artists Tom Wesselmann, Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, George Segal, and Andy Warhol; and Europeans such as Arman, Baj, Christo, Yves Klein, Festa, Rotella, Jean Tinguely, and Schifano. It followed the Nouveau Réalisme exhibition at the Galerie Rive Droite in Paris, and marked the international debut of the artists who soon gave rise to what came to be called Pop Art in Britain and The United States and Nouveau Réalisme on the European continent. Many of these artists used collage techniques in their work. Wesselmann took part in the New Realist show with some reservations, exhibiting two 1962 works: Still life #17 and Still life #22.
Another technique is that of canvas collage, which is the application, typically with glue, of separately painted canvas patches to the surface of a painting’s main canvas. Well known for use of this technique is British artist John Walker in his paintings of the late 1970s, but canvas collage was already an integral part of the mixed media works of such American artists as Conrad Marca-Relli and Jane Frank by the early 1960s. The intensely self-critical Lee Krasner also frequently destroyed her own paintings by cutting them into pieces, only to create new works of art by reassembling the pieces into collages.
The wood collage is a type that emerged somewhat later than paper collage. Kurt Schwitters began experimenting with wood collages in the 1920s after already having given up painting for paper collages. The principle of wood collage is clearly established at least as early as his ‘Merz Picture with Candle’, dating from the mid to late 1920s.
It is also interesting to note that wood collage in a sense made its debut, indirectly, at the same time as paper collage, since (according to the Guggenheim online), Georges Braque initiated use of paper collage by cutting out pieces of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and attaching them to his own charcoal drawings. Thus, the idea of gluing wood to a picture was implicitly there from the start, since the paper used in the very first paper collages was a commercial product manufactured to look like wood.
It was during a fifteen-year period of intense experimentation beginning in the mid-1940s that Louise Nevelson evolved her sculptural wood collages, assembled from found scraps, including parts of furniture, pieces of wooden crates or barrels, and architectural remnants like stair railings or moldings. Generally rectangular, very large, and painted black, they resemble gigantic paintings. Concerning Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral (1958), the Museum of Modern Art catalogue states, “As a rectangular plane to be viewed from the front, Sky Cathedral has the pictorial quality of a painting…” Yet such pieces also present themselves as massive walls or monoliths, which can sometimes be viewed from either side, or even looked through.
Much wood collage art is considerably smaller in scale, framed and hung as a painting would be. It usually features pieces of wood, wood shavings, or scraps, assembled on a canvas (if there is painting involved), or on a wooden board. Such framed, picture-like, wood-relief collages offer the artist an opportunity to explore the qualities of depth, natural color, and textural variety inherent in the material, while drawing on and taking advantage of the language, conventions, and historical resonances that arise from the tradition of creating pictures to hang on walls. The technique of wood collage is also sometimes combined with painting and other media in a single work of art.
Frequently, what is called “wood collage art” uses only natural wood – such as driftwood, or parts of found and unaltered logs, branches, sticks, or bark. This raises the question of whether such artwork is collage (in the original sense) at all (see Collage and modernism). This is because the early, paper collages were generally made from bits of text or pictures – things originally made by people, and functioning or signifying in some cultural context. The collage brings these still-recognizable “signifiers” (or fragments of signifiers) together, in a kind of semiotic collision. A truncated wooden chair or staircase newel used in a Nevelson work can also be considered a potential element of collage in the same sense: it had some original, culturally determined context. Unaltered, natural wood, such as one might find on a forest floor, arguably has no such context; therefore, the characteristic contextual disruptions associated with the collage idea, as it originated with Braque and Picasso, cannot really take place. (Driftwood is of course sometimes ambiguous: while a piece of driftwood may once have been a piece of worked wood – for example, part of a ship – it may be so weathered by salt and sea that its past functional identity is nearly or completely obscured.)
Decoupage is a type of collage usually defined as a craft. It is the process of placing a picture into an object for decoration. Decoupage can involve adding multiple copies of the same image, cut and layered to add apparent depth. The picture is often coated with varnish or some other sealant for protection.
In the early part of the 20th century, decoupage, like many other art methods, began experimenting with a less realistic and more abstract style. 20th-century artists who produced decoupage works include Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. The most famous decoupage work is Matisse’s Blue Nude II.
There are many varieties on the traditional technique involving purpose made ‘glue’ requiring fewer layers (often 5 or 20, depending on the amount of paper involved). Cutouts are also applied under glass or raised to give a three-dimensional appearance according to the desire of the decouper. Currently decoupage is a popular handicraft.
The craft became known as découpage in France (from the verb découper, ‘to cut out’) as it attained great popularity during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many advanced techniques were developed during this time, and items could take up to a year to complete due to the many coats and sandings applied. Some famous or aristocratic practitioners included Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, and Beau Brummell. In fact the majority of decoupage enthusiasts attribute the beginning of decoupage to 17th century Venice. However it was known before this time in Asia.
The most likely origin of decoupage is thought to be East Siberian funerary art. Nomadic tribes would use cut out felts to decorate the tombs of their deceased. From Siberia, the practice came to China, and by the 12th century, cut out paper was being used to decorate lanterns, windows, boxes and other objects. In the 17th century, Italy, especially in Venice, was at the forefront of trade with the Far East and it is generally thought that it is through these trade links that the cut out paper decorations made their way into Europe.
Collage made from photographs, or parts of photographs, is called photomontage. Photomontage is the process (and result) of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining a number of other photographs. The composite picture was sometimes photographed so that the final image is converted back into a seamless photographic print. The same method is accomplished today using image-editing software. The technique is referred to by professionals as compositing.
Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? was created in 1956 for the catalogue of the This Is Tomorrow exhibition in London, England in which it was reproduced in black and white. In addition, the piece was used in posters for the exhibit. Richard Hamilton has subsequently created several works in which he reworked the subject and composition of the pop art collage, including a 1992 version featuring a female bodybuilder. Many artists have created derivative works of Hamilton’s collage. P. C. Helm made a year 2000 interpretation.
Other methods for combining pictures are also called photomontage, such as Victorian “combination printing”, the printing from more than one negative on a single piece of printing paper (e.g. O. G. Rejlander, 1857), front-projection and computer montage techniques. Much as a collage is composed of multiple facets, artists also combine montage techniques. Romare Bearden’s (1912–1988) series of black and white “photomontage projections” is an example. His method began with compositions of paper, paint, and photographs put on boards 8½ × 11 inches. Bearden fixed the imagery with an emulsion that he then applied with handroller. Subsequently, he enlarged the collages photographically.
The 19th century tradition of physically joining multiple images into a composite and photographing the results prevailed in press photography and offset lithography until the widespread use of digital image editing. Contemporary photo editors in magazines now create “paste-ups” digitally.
Creating a photomontage has, for the most part, become easier with the advent of computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, Pixel image editor, and GIMP. These programs make the changes digitally, allowing for faster workflow and more precise results. They also mitigate mistakes by allowing the artist to “undo” errors. Yet some artists are pushing the boundaries of digital image editing to create extremely time-intensive compositions that rival the demands of the traditional arts. The current trend is to create pictures that combine painting, theatre, illustration and graphics in a seamless photographic whole.
Digital collage is the technique of using computer tools in collage creation to encourage chance associations of disparate visual elements and the subsequent transformation of the visual results through the use of electronic media. It is commonly used in the creation of digital art.
A 3D collage is the art of putting altogether three-dimensional objects such as rocks, beads, buttons, coins, or even soil to form a new whole or a new object. Examples can include houses, bead circles, etc.
It is the art of putting together or assembling of small pieces of paper, tiles, marble, stones, etc. They are often found in cathedrals, churches, temples as a spiritual significance of interior design.Small pieces, normally roughly quadratic, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern or picture.
The term “eCollage” (electronic Collage) can be used for a collage created by using computer tools.
Searle had one of the longest, most productive and wide ranging career of any 20th century caricaturist, working in book and magazine illustration, travel reportage, war reporting, political caricature, theatre, film and medal design.
His methods range from simple exaggeration of facial features, costumes and fashion fads; clever juxtapositions and contrasts of body types; absurd, nonsense comedy; physical, burlesque comedy; dark humour; bawdy humour; and more complicated word-play, with the interplay of word and image or ironic literary allusions.
Born and based in Cambridge
Fiztwilliam Museum 13 October 2015 to 31 January 2016.
In 1957 Standard Oil commissioned Searle to design the short which saw him visit America for the first time. The film was produced through Transfilm with the actual animation created by Dave Hilberman (a founding member of UPA) at Playhouse Pictures with Bill Melendez supervising animation and Art Babbitt animating at Quartet Films in Los Angeles. Searle spent several months in the US where his time was split between the ad agency (McCann-Erickson) in New York and the production outfits in LA.
“In that 16 minutes nearly 25,000 drawings were shown. The cost was four months work, often night and day, by something like 150 people and an expenditure of 450, 000 dollars.”
Wine & Spirit Trade Review, 7 March 1958