Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Cut and Paste - 400 Years of Collage

If you're at all interested in collage, Cut and Paste is a wonderful exhibition to see and it won't be touring so you need to catch it in Edinburgh.

Spread over 5 rooms in the Gallery of Modern Art 2 this collection of collage gives a concise, informative and inspiring history of the art form.

The exhibition casts its net wide in its interpretation of collage, including crazy patchwork, decoupaged vases and collections of memorabilia. But the focus is on collage as most widely understood, art made with paper and other items (including buttons, metal and even in one case a starfish) glued onto card or another base.

The original collages were often just accidental, in that the artist added paper to an artwork that had gone wrong and corrected it on the new paper.

Collage really came into its own in the Victorian period with the fashion for scrapbooking, card making and the like. In the 1850s you could buy kits to make your own collages, with all the small pieces required to dress your characters etc. A precursor to the sticker books that are still popular today.

In the Victorian period, collage was almost entirely an amateur pursuit. Later though it developed into a genre of art used by world renowned artists including Picasso and Matisse. It still remains a very accessible, democratic form of art that can be enjoyed by those of us who can't paint or draw with any degree of expertise.

Collage has often been used as an indicator of artistic rebellion, being used by artists to protest wars, repressive regimes and the patriarchy. Pictures on display include a couple of the Merz collages by dissident German artist Kurt Schwitters and Fish Circus by Eileen Agar. Ther are also a couple of videos, including Carolee Schneeman making herself into a living collage with stills of the results of her collage which are protests against the Vietnam War. Add in the priceless reactions of her cat and this is a remarkable video. Towards the end of the exhibition you can see collaged mock ups of the set for Terry Gilliam's brilliant and weird film Brazil.

Cut and Paste is showing until Sunday 27 October at Gallery of Modern Art 2, Belford Road. Full price tickets start at £11. Concessions are available.

The Gallery of Modern Art 1 across the road contains a number of free exhibitions.

When you have experienced enough art for the day, both galleries have fine cafes and both are situated right by the Water of Leith. If you're very lucky (as I was) you will see kingfishers flying around (this is one of their favourite spots along the river).

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