History of Collage & Photomontage: Juan Guzman

For this piece, I have chosen to write about, “Opened by Customs” a collage put together by Kurt Schwitters. The piece was produced from 1937-38. Collage making was widely popular during the early 20th century.  This artist demonstrates the technique of cutting and pasting papers adopted from Italy. In the early 1900’s well-known artist Pablo Picasso innovatively established this technique. Textures of the piece varied with differing materials like soft white paper, thin newspaper, and long thick brush strokes. Influences on these colleges were reading materials like books, newspaper print and various paper materials.

Opened by Customs 1937-8 Kurt Schwitters 1887-1948 Purchased 1958 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00214

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, form of media then was the newspaper which helps bring the point a crossed collage pieces through written words. The low neutral colors of the collage gives the examiner a better idea of the time period. Its influences give this collage a well balanced piece because of the dark grays and black mixed in with the red and orange hues. The repetitional use of the Old English Text alongside the paper can help me notice the seriousness of the piece. The vertical lines in the collage leads me from top to bottom, gradually going from the soft light browns to the more implied grays and reds. The depth of all the papers stacked on each other send a sort of subliminal vibe. It reminds me of something political and tells a story from the time period. The paint reveals the type of paint most commonly used during that time. The layers of different materials used makes the piece complete with its unique arrangement. As the article suggests, it “served as a correlation with the pace and discontinuity of the modern world”, bringing a sense of modernism to tie into its own decade and the past decade of when it was originated. The collage’s unity makes the perfect symbol for early collage work that was very common in era.

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