Mixed media is a term used to describe artworks composed from a combination of different media or materials

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  • Pablo Picasso, 'Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper' 1913

    Pablo Picasso
    Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper 1913
    Collage and pen and ink on blue paper
    support: 467 x 625 mm
    Purchased 1961 Succession Picasso/DACS 2002

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  • Pablo Picasso, 'Still Life' 1914

    Pablo Picasso
    Still Life 1914
    Painted wood and upholstery fringe
    object: 254 x 457 x 92 mm
    Purchased 1969 Succession Picasso/DACS 2002

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  • Eileen Agar, 'Angel of Anarchy' 1936-40

    Eileen Agar
    Angel of Anarchy 1936-40
    Textiles over plaster and mixed media
    object: 520 x 317 x 336 mm
    Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1983 The estate of Eileen Agar

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  • Kurt Schwitters, '(Relief in Relief)' circa 1942-5

    Kurt Schwitters
    (Relief in Relief) circa 1942-5
    Oil on wood and plaster
    object: 495 x 413 x 102 mm
    Purchased 1970 DACS, 2002

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  • Joe Tilson, 'Vox Box' 1963

    Joe Tilson
    Vox Box 1963
    Painted wood
    object: 1524 x 1219 x 70 mm
    Purchased 1976 Joe Tilson

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  • Peter Blake, 'The Toy Shop' 1962

    Peter Blake
    The Toy Shop 1962
    Mixed media, glass and painted wood
    displayed: 1568 x 1940 x 340 mm
    Purchased 1970 Peter Blake 2002. All rights reserved, DACS

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  • Cy Twombly, 'No. IV' 1974

    Cy Twombly
    No. IV 1974
    Lithograph and mixed media on paper
    support: 758 x 558 mm
    Purchased 1981 The estate of Cy Twombly

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  • Chris Ofili, 'No Woman, No Cry' 1998

    Chris Ofili
    No Woman, No Cry 1998
    Acrylic, oil, polyester resin, paper collage, glitter, map pins and elephant dung on canvas
    support: 2438 x 1828 x 51 mm
    Purchased 1999 Courtesy Chris Ofili - Afroco and Victoria Miro Gallery

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  • Colin Self, 'Leopardskin Nuclear Bomber No. 2' 1963

    Colin Self
    Leopardskin Nuclear Bomber No. 2 1963
    Painted wood, aluminium, steel and cloth
    unconfirmed: 95 x 800 x 420 mm, 2 kg
    Purchased 1993 Colin Self. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002

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  • Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, 'The Last Night of the Shop 3.7.93' 1993

    Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas
    The Last Night of the Shop 3.7.93 1993
    Fabric and paper badges
    support: 1515 x 1350 mm
    Presented by the Factual Nonsense Trust and the family of Joshua Compston in memory of Joshua Compston 2000 Tracey Emin & Sarah Lucas

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  • Sarah Lucas, 'Pauline Bunny' 1997

    Sarah Lucas
    Pauline Bunny 1997
    Mixed media
    object: 950 x 640 x 900 mm
    Presented by the Patrons of New Art (Special Purchase Fund) through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1998 Sarah Lucas

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The use of mixed media began around 1912 with the cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and has become widespread as artists developed increasingly open attitudes to the media of art. Essentially art can be made of anything or any combination of things.

Mixed media vs. multi-media

What is the difference between mixed media and multi-media artworks? While both terms describe artworks that are made using a range of materials, multi-media is generally used to define an artwork that uses or includes a combination electronic media, such as video, film, audio and computers.

Mixed media artists in focus

Explore the work of three artists who use mixed media in their work:

Phyllida Barlow: Installations from everyday materials

For over four decades sculptor Phyllida Barlow has made imposing, large scale sculptural installations using inexpensive, everyday materials such as cardboard, fabric, timber, polystyrene, plaster, scrim and cement. Her distinctive work is focused on her experimentation with these materials, to create bold and colourful three-dimensional collages.

In this video Phyllida Barlow discusses the dynamic process of installation whilst placing and suspending her large-scale sculptures in the Duveen Galleries for the Tate Britain Commission 2014.

How Phyllida Barlow’s dock influences fashion
Blog describing how Phyllida Barlow’s experimental approach to materials inspired fashion students at the University of the Arts, London.

Exhibition catalogue: Phyllida Barlow
Find out more about Phyllida Barlow’s ideas and work in this online exhibition catalogue for dock, her 2014 installation for Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries.

Eileen Agar: Beachcombed and ‘found’ objects

From the mid 1930s, Eileen Agar experimented with techniques and new materials to create mixed media objects and collages inspired by the ideas and processes of surrealism.

This video from the Animating the Archives series, reveals some of the processes behind the artist’s thinking, collecting and object-making, as well as the secrets of her personal correspondence. 

MicroTate 9: Angel of Anarchy
Read about Agar’s mixed media work Angel of Anarchy in this Tate Etc. feature

Blog: Tate Archive 40 | 1992 Eileen Agar ‘Surreal Landscape’
Archivist Adrian Glew explores archive material relating to the artist in Tate’s archive

Chris Ofili: Paint, glitter, collage – and elephant dung

Not all mixed media involves making objects. The term can also refer to two-dimensional works that include a range of media. Paint, resin, glitter, collage – and elephant dung (!) – have all been used by artist Chris Ofili in creating his vibrant,  meticulously executed artworks that explore issues of black identity and experience.

In this video, musician Tinie Tempah takes a close look at Chris Ofili’s paintings  – and compares Ofili’s processes of layering materials to making music.

Go behind the scenes at Tate Conservation to explore the materials, processes and techniques used by Ofili in creating his works.

More on Ofili…

Chris Ofili: Exploding the Crystal
Find out more about Chris Ofili’s techniques in this fascinating video of the artist at work in his studio in Trinidad. (Please note: This video includes some images and discussion of paintings that contain adult themes).

Chris Ofili: Exhibition guide
Find out more about the artist and his work in the online exhibition guide to the 2010 exhibition at Tate Britain.

Related glossary terms

Assemblage
Installation art
Bricolage
Collage
Multi-media 
Cubism