Blow Top Blues: The Fire Next Time

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art--Some Assembly Required: Collage and Assemblage

This week the Daily Palette is celebrating Some Assembly Required: Collage and Assemblage at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA). This exhibition, which runs through January 26, 2014, takes a look at the breadth and depth of collage and assemblage, especially in the hands of American artists.

In the 19th century, before the emergence of the term collage, the gluing together bits of paper—tickets, photographs, printed texts—was largely a craft, a technique used for scrapbooks and other domestic memorabilia. In the early 20th century, however, European artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso started to incorporate bits of paper into their paintings, elevating the activity of collage into a fine art. Collage was born. Assemblage, the three-dimensional equivalent of collage, was not far behind.

Both collage and assemblage art began as a radical new way of art-making, turning its back on more traditional practices of painting and sculpting. Collages and assemblages evoke a delight in everyday things and a somewhat subversive attitude toward the "established" art world. The use of non-art materials, or even junk from the everyday world, often evokes a rawness, and occasionally poetic, qualities.

Some Assembly Required features the work of many Iowan artists, such as Grant Wood, Mauricio Lasansky, Chuck Barth, and many more. Some of the works on view date back to the 1920s, near the origin of the technique. Others demonstrate the long-lasting impact of these early experiments on multiple generations of artists. In each artist's hands, however, collage and assemblage take on a different form, reflecting each artist's unique vision.

Blow Top Blues: The Fire Next Time, color lithograph with collage on paper, 1998

Museum purchase, 2006.030

Betye Saar is a celebrated Los Angeles-born artist known for her work in assemblage and collage, as well as for her installations.  She studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, Long Beach, and the University of Southern California, California State University, Northridge.  She enjoys combining a variety of found objects and images to create works of art that make strong social or political statements, or that offer an intimate glimpse of her life and family.  Saar's work reveals her interest in both spirituality and technology.  She is the recipient of numerous awards as well as several honorary doctorate degrees.

Image and exhibition summary courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

This page was first displayed
on January 14, 2014

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