RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COLLAGE AND AVANT-GARDE IN THE 20TH CENTURY Name: Institution: Introduction A collage is a term that is derived from the French word “Coller,” which means, “to paste.” According to, “it can be described as an assembly of images, used in part or in whole or cropped out to specific areas, combined or pasted together to create a collective visual”(Ryder, 2009, pp 13)…
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The two-dimensional collages that they developed were implemented using newspaper clippings, colored papers, tobacco wrappers, and wallpapers. After the cubists embraced collage, various other artists and movements joined the train and started recognizing its potential as an aspect of art. In parts of Italy, the futurists received recognition for successfully adopting the use of collage to express the principles of the machine age. In Russia, the constructivists adopted the use of collage in developing posters that announced the Russian Revolution. More recently, neo-Expressionists have integrated certain aspects of collage into primarily painted surfaces (Ryder, 2009, pp.2). For instance, this can be best illustrated in the way Jeff Koon continually interprets aspects of pop culture, just as he designed a balloon twisted into an animal shape and cast in ceramic with a metallic finish. The objective of this paper is to discuss the role of collage in the development and divergence of twentieth century notions of the avant-garde; and determine whether Greenberg is being reductive behind the whole idea of avant-garde. Discussion Initially, the term avant-garde was used to describe “the foremost part of an army advancing to war.’ Currently it is also used to describe a grouping of artists who perceive itself to be innovative and unique. Others use this French originated term to describe a movement advancing radical social change. More progressively, the term was linked to movements formed to champion art issues. Such groups direct their attention fundamentally more towards developing and diversifying cutting edges of aesthetic experience, and not aggressive social change (Pronko, 2003, pp.1). Fundamentally, the idea of avant-garde is used to describe “artists, writers, thinkers and theorists” whose contribution in the field of art contradicts mainstream culture systems and frequently has an incisive social or political edge. Most of these groups of individuals and groups made affirmations regarding vanguard culture in the seminal periods of modernization (Pronko, 2003, pp.2). However, the first authoritative statement issued on the subject of avant-garde was in Clement Greenberg’s essay titled “Avant-Garde and Kitsch.” This was a New York based art critic whose work still receives a lot of recognition until today. In this piece of work, he argued that vanguard culture over the years had been critical of the mainstream culture, as well as the synthesized mass culture that is attributed to the process of industrialization. To this art critic, these forms of culture admittedly ought to be described as Kitsch; meaning counterfeit and mechanical. Notwithstanding Greenberg’s critical arguments, other quarters have misleadingly suited and misused the term “avant-garde”, primarily as a marketing strategy to popularize other forms of art such as music and films. Currently, it is not surprising to hear people refer to rock superstars and film celebrities as avant-garde. With all this counter arguments, it is important to understand the role played by ancient art forms, particularly the collage, in the development and divergence of the notion of avant-garde as understood in the twentieth century. Schwitters was a well recognized artist in the nineteenth century who developed his first
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