Obelisk Art History
Mediums

Collage
Picasso may have named it, but Höch made it cool

Collage, MediumsAngst

It’s said that Picasso and Georges Braque coined the term collage from the French word coller, ‘to glue’ to describe the practice of cutting up bits of paper, printed material and canvas and gluing it back together to form a new artwork, but this gives these gentlemen too muich credit. While it may not have had a fancy French name, the practice of combining art materials into a whole dates back to 200 BCE, when paper was invented in China, and calligraphers would affix poems onto artwork. The English artist Mary Delany adapted the Victorian hobby of decoupage, gluing together cutouts of different colored paper, into her own form of collage, making 985 artworks over the course of her life. Reguardless of its invention, collage did emerge as its own powerful and unique form of expression in the early 1900’s — largely from the incredibly expressive body of work by the artist Hannah Höch. Höch’s collage are arresting in their immediacy, and wouldn't look out of place on Instagram’s art feeds.

Reed Enger, "Collage, Picasso may have named it, but Höch made it cool," in Obelisk Art History, Published March 03, 2015; last modified June 09, 2020, http://arthistoryproject.com/mediums/collage/.

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