Art of RetroCollage celebrates the varied forms, masters, and history of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artistic innovations: collage. The site will also serve as a gallery for the physical and digital collages I have been making for a quarter century.
The power of collage lies in its ability to “cut to the chase.” By relying on readymade images of objects instead of creating them from scratch, the collagist benefits from a complex web of associations already attached to each image by other people. When these “accepted” images are combined in unexpected ways, their respective attached associations combine as well — colliding, amplifying, distorting each other–and the result can move the viewer’s perceptions and emotions profoundly, while giving birth to a new world.
I began to love printed paper in late infancy. In my crib, I would spend hours looking through the picture pages of magazines, carefully tearing them out and piling them to one side. I suspect that this activity was a precursor of the collage work I have done since. When I was six years old, I saw wood engravings for the first time, in a Czech fantasy film based on a Jules Verne novel. The director had collaged these fascinating images into animated compositions: fish swam, butterflies flitted from place to place, pistons and gears slid and rotated with clockwork precision. Three years later, I happened upon Max Ernst’s collages of nineteenth century engravings, from his pictorial novel A Week of Kindness (Une Semaine de Bonté). These two experiences awakened in me a love of wood engravings and an understanding of their pictorial power when juxtaposed.
The collages shown here present unconscious and preconscious themes: dreams, emotional associations, desires, ancestral memory, and the cultural collective unconscious. While combining images, I attempt to allow them to speak to one another, to guide and direct the process of collage-making with as little conscious interference as possible.