Assemblage with Found Surfaces

Mixed Media class: scroll down to the bottom of the page to get tips for your upcoming assemblage assignment!
Pablo Picasso, La bouteille de Suze (Bottle of Suze) 1912
movement: Synthetic Cubism
The assemblage is a truly modern phenomenon. The technique of assemblage is the incorporation of everyday objects and surfaces into a composition, either 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional. The intention is to bring elements of everyday life directly into an artwork.

Assemblage started with Synthetic Cubism, a movement that further flattened the space of Cubist painting by introducing recognizable collage elements. Fragments of newspaper, product labels, wallpaper, etc... were used not only as a formal element of texture and color, but also as familiar objects - undisguised.  

The absurdity that could result from decontextualizing everyday objects within an artwork was enthusiastically explored by Dada and Surrealist artists. They saw a world that no longer made sense, at least not in the old way. Industrialization meant that machines were replacing humans and WWI sent home soldiers that were literally pieced back together. 

Max Ernst, "Fruit d'une Longue Experience" (Fruit of a Long Experience) 1919
Movement: Dada
Kurt Schwitters, "Merzbild Rossfett" 1919
Movement: Dada
American artist Robert Rauschenberg continued the technique of assemblage in the 1960's. He referred to these hybrid painting-objects as Combines. Like Schwitters, he developed his own visual language through the combination of everyday found objects and painting. The compositions often have the feeling of being psychologically charged. Although very influenced by Dadaism, one difference that I see with Rauschenberg is that while the Dada artists were more concerned with deconstructing meaning, Rauschenberg seems to be building meaning. His Combines are like sentences that cannot be quite deciphered, but lead one to imagine to that with the right key they could be. 

Robert Rauschenberg, Combine
Movement: Abstract Expressionism 
Robert Rauschenberg, Combine 
** For the Mixed Media class this Sunday, please bring a collection of found surfaces that can be used for an assemblage. Look for surfaces with interesting textures, for example a weathered piece of wood, a rusted piece of metal, or a torn poster. Choose objects and surfaces that reflect your everyday life! Maybe something you find in the recycling bin of your work, a label from an oft used product, objects found on your daily commute. Look out for materials when you are walking on the street, this is probably the best way to find stuff!


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