Visual Arts Publications
The Cut in Collage: Pollock, Fontana, Matta-Clark, Ono
The methods of collage are full of meaning. In the years succeeding the ‘golden age’ of Cubist collage, the eminent twentieth century art critic Clement Greenberg wrote an essay that defined collage as cutting and pasting “a piece of extraneous material to the surface of [a] picture.” Greenberg and contemporary scholars have seemingly ignored a closer examination of the processes of collage and its larger consequences in artistic practice. Analysts overlook the fundamental question of ‘how’ an object is constructed, opting to endlessly scrutinize the completed product. The processes of collage may be as important, if not more important than the result. It is in the result that the collaging process is referenced; tearing, taping, and affixing are clearly detectable. To investigate the procedural gestures of collage expands and amplifies its narrow, formalist dimensions. The primordial cut is one neglected gesture, first employed in an artistic context over one-thousand years ago. A focus on the act of cutting unearths a fruitful dialogue of collage strategies while broadening and redefining our relatively limited definitions of collage.
Matthew Ryan Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in Art and Visual Culture at The University of Western Ontario.