Collage is a visual art form that involves gluing objects to a central backing. It is derived from the French word coller, which means “to stick.” A common incarnation of the form is two-dimensional collages made with photographs, ribbons, and pieces of magazines and newspapers. Structured collages made from found objects like wood and figurines, on the other hand, are not uncommon. This art form can use both original and borrowed materials, and the medium is only limited the artist’s imagination.
The origins of collage can be traced back to the 10th century, when Japanese calligraphers began gluing scraps of paper to their works. The idea of using gold leaf and gems in religious art arose in 13th-century Europe, and it quickly spread among artists. Mosaic is a type of collage that involves fitting together many small pieces of tile to create a pattern. It has been popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean for centuries.
A collage is usually made up of mixed media. For example, the artist may use magazine clippings to create a base image, but then write or paint over portions of the finished work. The artist could also add tactile elements like fabric, ribbon, textured papers, or other objects to make the piece more visually interesting. To prevent the elements from peeling off, the finished collage is frequently sealed with a glue treatment.
When working with more three-dimensional found objects, a collage can take the form of an art piece mounted on a solid backing, or it can become a diorama or sculpture. Glass, ceramic, metal, figurines, dried flowers, and anything else the artist can think of are common elements in this type, in addition to wood. Because of the protruding elements, these art forms can be more fragile, and they are usually heavily secured with strong adhesive products.
Collage can also be used in more integrated ways. Artists like Pablo Picasso, for example, used the concept in their work. Picasso’s paintings lack the textural divisions created gluing items down in a specific order, but they retain the art form’s distinctive disjointed look. Some artists use a series of small photographs to create a larger image in photo montage, a type of collage.
Many students experiment with collage in art class, and some go on to make a career out of it. Some museums, as well as major galleries, have particularly fine examples on display. Depending on the artist’s intention, collage can be used to convey the vast diversity of human experience, or simply to create a handmade greeting card, alongside a variety of other visual media.