"Still Life with Chair-Caning"
Oil and oilcloth on canvas, with rope frame
10 5/8 x 13 3/4 in. (27 x 35 cm.)
Daix 466. Musee Picasso, Paris
Note: Early in 1912, Picasso created “Still Life with Chair Caning” (above), which is considered by many to be the first modern collage. To create the artwork, Picasso attached a piece of oilcloth with a caning pattern to an oval-shaped painting, which he “framed” with rope.
The world collage comes from the French coller, which means “to glue” and is an art production technique in which artwork is made from a variety of materials to create a new whole. Typically, collages contain photographs, newspaper clippings, different kinds of papers, ribbons or string, maps, matchbooks, magazine advertisements, and a range of other materials that are glued to a piece of paper or a canvas. Collage, as an art form, may be traced back several centuries and was first seen in China around the year 200 BC at the time paper was invented. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that collage reached its height of popularity (concurrent with the Modernist Movement’s beginnings). Today, collage enjoys a renaissance of interest among graphic artists and poets alike.
Here’s the Challenge:
1. Before beginning, Google “collages” and spend some time looking at examples offered on the Internet. You’ll find some great collage examples by poet/artist Nancy Scott at http://nancyscott.net/blog/collages/
2. To begin, think of a general topic/theme (childhood, a particular place, a person, a pet, a time in your life, a historical era, etc).
3. Now either write a poem about the theme you’ve chosen, or select one of your already-written poems that fits your theme or determines another.
4. At this point, I suggest getting a piece of posterboard (any size), cardboard, sturdy paper, a small artist’s canvas, or the backing material of your choice on which you will make your collage. You'll also need scissors and glue. Then, gather several pictures or images that express your theme and specific points in your poem. You can include personal photos, photos that you print from the Internet, or pictures from magazines or newspapers. You’ll also need other interesting materials—think in terms of colors, textures, etc. Your materials may be anything that can be glued to your background.
5. Now begin to “collage” your poem. There are no specific instructions for making a collage—experiment with shapes and forms, surface variety, unique materials, and have fun. Make your collage a composite of related images, give a little nod to the surreal, take some risks. Your collage and your poem will be two parts of a whole and will contain layered images in both visuals and language.
1. An alternative is to create a collage background (a paste-up of pictures) over which you paste the words of your poem. To do this, type the poem and print it out, then cut the lines into strips and paste them over your background collage.
2. A second alternative is to write a collage poem (sometimes called “found poetry”) in which you clip words and phrases from a newspaper or magazine and turn them into a poem.
Have fun with this — enjoy the processes of poem and collage!