Collage describes both the technique and the resulting work of art in which pieces of paper, photographs, fabric and other ephemera are arranged and stuck down onto a supporting surface
- Introduction to collage
- Kurt Schwitters in focus
- John Stezaker in focus
- Collage in detail
- Collage for kids
The term collage derives from the French term papiers collés (or découpage), used to describe techniques of pasting paper cut-outs onto various surfaces. It was first used as an artists’ technique in the early twentieth century.
Development of collage
Browse the slideshow below and read the image captions to find out how artists have used collage through the decades:
Tate Debate: what is the relevance of collage in the digital age?
This blogpost looks at the collage works of Kurt Schwitters and Richard Hamilton and asks what happens to collage when it is made digitally: is it a collage or something else entirely?
Watch Peter Blake in his London studio as he begins work on a new collage piece and talks about his act of collecting and which artists influenced his making.
In focus: Kurt Schwitters – the everyday into art
Dada artist Kurt Schwitters created collages from everyday materials that he found around him ranging from bus tickets and sweet packets to adverts in magazines. Schwitters invented the concept of Merz – ‘the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials’.
My father wanted certain parts of his collages read and understood, intellectually, and he often made these the actual titles of his works. Usually, they were witty, ironical or even sarcastic
Schwitters in Britain
This exhibition which was at Tate Britain in 2013 focused on the artist’s British period, from his arrival in Britain as a refugee in 1940. It included over 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures. Read the exhibition guide and see what artworks were on display.
Curator Karin Orchard in her exhibition catalogue essay wrote of Schwitters’s Merz:
Following his experiences in the First World War, Schwitters decided to create something new from the rubble of the old world and henceforth concentrated on collages: ‘You can also shout with items from rubbish heaps, and that is what I did, by pasting and nailing them together’… In the hands of Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, George Grosz, John Heartfield and the other dadaists disparate materials from all sorts of sources retain their own identity and are combined to create an entirely new self-sufficient composition. Collage and montage become groundbreaking, structural concepts in modernism
Curator’s talk: Schwitters in Britain
Emma Chambers, curator of Schwitters in Britain provides some exclusive insights into the creation of the exhibition and discusses some of the key works on display.
i-map animation: Kurt Schwitter’s Opened by Customs
This animation provides a fascinating exploration of Schwitters’s collage technique as it takes us through, step-by-step, the artists’s construction of his work Opened by Customs 1937-8.
Schwitters in Britain: can you identify the collaged figure?
As well as providing a concise explanation about some of Schwitters’s main collage artworks, this blog post sets a challenge: Can you identify collaged figures in Schwitters’s EN MORN 1947?.
In foucs: John Stezaker – myth, nostalgia and multiplicity
Collage allows the opening up of conscious, which is very direct…its also a way of looking at what you are consuming all the time.
John Stezaker makes collages and photomontages, an approach he has been using since he was a student at the Slade school of art in the 1960s. He is particularly fascinated by post-war consumer imagery from 1950s–60s, from film stills to postcards.
Whatever one’s thinking about the late 1950s, early 1960s, its left us with a wonderful repository of myth which perhaps I’m exploring…it represents a smaller and simpler world.
Watch this 2006 interview with John Stezaker, where he explains his interest in collage and found objects.
Work of the week: The Oath by John Stezaker
Curator and writer Brian Dillon discusses Stezaker’s mysterious collage The Oath, which was included in Ruin Lust an exhibition on display at Tate Britain in 2014.
Audio arts: John Stezaker
In this wide ranging interview Stezaker discusses the multiplicity of collage and how the act of making it is a form of child’s play and a return to childhood innocence.
John Stezaker on Joseph Cornell
John Stezaker reveals his debt to surrealist and assemblage maker Joseph Cornell.
Collage in detail
Merzzeichnung: Typology and Typography
This article considers the place of drawing in the development of Schwitters’s Merz practice and argues that the close connection he made between drawings and collages was not merely because of their common status as works on paper.
Essay: Sarah Wilson, Kurt Schwitters in England
This research essay by Professor Sarah Wilson discusses how Schwitters’s feelings of isolation from his exile to Britain informed his artwork including collages.
Schwitters in context: The British years
Listen to the audio recording of this conference which discusses Schwitters’s British period and its broader context, including the relationship between abstraction and representation in his work.
Paolozzi’s Pop New Brutalist World
This Tate Paper looks at the collage work of Eduardo Paolozzi and argues that his engagement with mass media and modern industry, combined pop tendencies with the logic of new brutalism.
Paula Rego: 1960s political collages
Find out more about Portuguese artist Paula Rego’s highly subversive, overtly political, collage-based works which express her hatred of the oppressive conditions she grew up with.