Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Pablo Picasso, 
Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912
(Musée Picasso)

The invention of collage as an art practice was, in the saying of a famous 20th century art critic in a well known essay: “a major turning point in the evolution of Cubism, and therefore a major turning point in the whole evolution of modernist art in this century”. (1)

Collage explodes what we may call  “le cadre de la representation”, namely, the space and the very structure, that is, the context or frame of representation, its boundaries and interior configuration. It does so by admitting a transit between representation and the real, by incorporating elements that may be provisionally or momentarily subordinated to its general structure, but are never fully absorbed into the matter of representation.  A ‘transit’ which is also in many ways a parallel “confrontation” between mind and matter. The collaged elements exist, subsist, persist therefore in the dubious, dual and perhaps dialectic condition of being at the same time vehicle, substance, function of the signifying process and the irreducible, intractable point of resistance in that process. They remind us of the ‘always already’ in-significant foundations, limits and surpluses of the processes of representation and meaning.

Assigned their places and functions within the produced object, or supra-object, the collaged elements become sutures within the flow of representation. They reveal the interstices of representational practices, they are the articulations that bring to the fore the structures and processes of coding, they display the work of elaboration that brings to life representational objects and representing–represented subjects.

In this sense, collage is indeed a self-reflective practice of art, a modern practice announcing,  anticipating, and exemplifying  in the early 20th century (and for the century at large) that “concluding” realization of self- consciousness in which Hegel saw the mark of the modern world and of modern culture as such.

Marcelo Guimaraes Lima

(1) Clement Greenberg - Collage http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/collage.html 

Detail of the above

 images source: http://www.musee-picasso.fr/pages/page_id18547_u1l2.htm

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