Left Field Corner

Degas: “Voilà! I have this great idea for a poem.”
Mallarmé: “Alors mon ami, poems are made out of
words, not ideas.”

It has been said that ingredients make the collage. One could argue that case. But what of the comprehensive whole? Does the effect of the artwork not rely on the compositional relationships and the interest of juxtapositions? Of course. But what could be expressed without the ingredients? What would a painting be without the paint? Do you know a collage artist who does not take special care with the selection of the physical components and does not thoughtfully compile, sort, edit, and re-edit before the process of assembly takes place? Some may emphasize the pictorial or symbolic qualities, while others may focus more on abstract or aesthetic attributes. Many give great attention to the sourcing or provenance, with personal criteria that must be met in service to a sought-after look or personal style. Others zero in on the transitory nature of ingredients, independent of representational aspects, with a keen regard for age, condition, and the sense of impermanence. But the bottom line for all— something a perceptive friend recently pointed out to me— is that each and every ingredient caught the artist’s eye in some significant, personal way, in some manner that gave glimpse to its ultimate visual potential. That was when I realized how most of my ingredients had run a long gauntlet of multiple scrutinies: First it was acquired and saved for some reason. Then it was retrieved from its repository for some reason (often years later). Then it was grouped with other worthy candidates for some reason. And then finally it was used in a work. It found a new purpose for which it was not originally intended, a place where it belonged, when other items were set aside (perhaps to win a role in another collage, or to eventually fall out of favor). It’s hard to disagree with the idea that the culminating gestalt of a collage determines its level of success, the degree to which it becomes more than the sum of its parts. Ah… but how we relish those parts!

Left Field Corner ~ J A Dixon

Left Field Corner
collage miniature by J A Dixon
5.5 x 5.5 inches
collection of R K Hower

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