Cubism: from the papiérs collés of Georges Braque to the mixed-media collages of Pablo Picasso



Of all avant-garde art movements throughout history, Cubism was the first to try its hand at collage. Cubist painting, with its characteristically fractured, deconstructed forms, easily welcomed non-paint objects and materials (newspaper clippings, pieces of fabric, excerpts from sheet music, wallpaper, old photographs, etc.) upon its surfaces.

In other words, for Cubist artists, the moment to represent the shapes of the world via painting had come and gone; it was time to use fragments taken from that very world itself and relocate them directly within the frame.

The inventors of Cubist collage were none other than the movement’s “odd couple,” Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, in 1912.

Picasso worked in a more direct manner, and his pieces of paper were often ripped and applied to the canvas with pins.

Braque, on the other hand, was more inclined towards greater formal tidiness and chose newspaper clippings according to their content or message for what he called papiér collé (pasted paper).

It should also be mentioned that Picasso, a tireless experimenter, not only used paper in his collages, but also a wide range of other materials (chalk, wood, straw, metal wire, everyday objects, etc.), paving the way to another chapter in copy-paste creativity: assemblage (multi-media collage of three-dimensional objects on a flat substrate).

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