History of photomontage : Laura Lopes Cezar (Spanish)


Oliver Grau Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion

Photomontage is the process and the result of making a composite photograph from one or more photographs through:

  • multiple exposures in-camera or on film in the printing process
  • cutting, gluing, rearranging and overlapping elements from one or more photographs into a new image. Sometimes the resulting composite image is photographed so that a final image may appear as a seamless photographic print.
  • digital manipulation: computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Corel Photopaint, Pixelmator, Paint.NET, or 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.
  • “Photocollage” usually refers to large and ambitious works that added typography, brushwork, or even objects stuck to the photomontage.

A composite of related photographs (eg Hockney’s ‘binder’) to extend a view of a single scene or subject would not be labelled as a montage.



Early ‘virtual reality’ shows were made of composited images.

Victorian and Edwardian “combination printing”

The printing of more than one negative on a single piece of printing paper. Fantasy photomontage postcards were popular in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The first and most famous mid-Victorian photomontage (then called combination printing) was “The Two Ways of Life” (1857) by Oscar Rejlander, followed shortly thereafter by the images of photographer Henry Peach Robinson such as “Fading Away” (1858). These works actively set out to challenge the then-dominant painting and theatrical tableau vivants. The high point of its popularity came during World War I, when photographers in France, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Hungary produced a profusion of postcards showing soldiers on one plane and lovers, wives, children, families, or parents on another.


Other methods for combining images are also called photomontage, such as (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.

Digital compositing

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 images that combine painting, theatre, illustration, and graphics in a seamless photographic whole.


Photomontage also may be present in the scrapbooking phenomenon, in which family images are pasted into scrapbooks and a collage created along with paper ephemera and decorative items.

Digital art scrapbooking employs a computer to create simple collage designs and captions. The amateur scrapbooker can turn home projects into professional output, such as CDs, DVDs, displays on television, uploads to a website for viewing, or assemblies into one or more books for sharing.

Contemporary photograph editors in magazines now create “paste-ups” digitally.

Photograph manipulation

Photograph manipulation refers to alterations made to an image. Often, the goal of photograph manipulation is to create another ‘realistic’ image. This has led to numerous political and ethical concerns, particularly in journalism.

Photomontage artists


John Heartfield

Georg Grosz

Hannah Höch

Kurt Schwitters

Raoul Hausmann


Salvador Dalí


Harue Koga produced photomontage-style paintings based on images culled from magazines.


El Lissitzky

Alexander Rodchenko

Valentina Kulagina and Gustav Klutsis wife-and-husband team created  propaganda, such as the journal USSR in Construction, for the Soviet government.

Media arts

Rene Acevedo and Adrian Brannan

Latin America

Romare Bearden (1912–1988) produced a  series of black and white “photomontage projections”. His method began with compositions of paper, paint, and photographs put on boards measuring 8½ × 11 inches. Bearden fixed the imagery with an emulsion that he then applied with hand roller. Subsequently, he photographed and enlarged them.

Josep Renau Berenguer (es), Following his exile to Mexico in the late 1930s, Spanish Civil War activist and montage artist compiled his acclaimed, Fata Morgana USA: the American Way of Life, a book of photomontage images highly critical of Americana and North American “consumer culture”.

Lola Alvarez Bravo, experimented with photomontage on life and social issues in Mexican cities.

Grete Stern exiled in Argentina during the late 1940s began to contribute photomontage work on the theme of Sueños (Dreams), as part of a regular psychoanalytical article in the magazine, IdilioGoogle Images

Alfred Gescheidt, American photographer while working primarily in advertising and commercial art in the 1960s and 1970s, used photomontage techniques to create satirical posters and postcards.

David Hockney

Ethical issues

A photomontage may contain elements at once real and imaginary. Combined photographs and digital manipulations may set up a conflict between aesthetics and ethics – for instance, in fake photographs that are presented to the world as real news. For example, in the United States, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has set out a Code of Ethics promoting the accuracy of published images, advising that photographers “do not manipulate images … that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.”

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