Archive for the 'S Gordon' Category

All Things Collage: Year One

Friday, July 12th, 2013

“Any fool can carry on, but only the wise man knows how to shorten sail.”
— Joseph Conrad

Looking back on a full year as a blogger, many of my initial objectives have been met, but there are even more subjects to tackle in the coming months. Can I find the right balance between words and images, welcoming others to act as better scribes for what is happening in collage and remembering that I would rather be holding a pair of scissors than typing at a keyboard? The exceptional print quarterly out of Canada, Kolaj, has also celebrated its first birthday. 2012 was the perfect year to salute a century of collage as a modern art and also to look around, assessing the current maturity of the practice. I still have much to say about the pioneers and exemplars — Gris, Schwitters, Hausmann, Höch, Cornell, Hamilton, Johnson — for there is much to observe and absorb about their seminal talismans and bodies of work.

It is equally important to evaluate more of the leading and emerging artists now actively producing what may be known as “post-centennial collage,” perhaps the most vital period of cross-pollinated output in the medium’s history. Where to focus next? Those who magnify the traditions of Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, or Layerism? Dedicated collage abstractionists such as Touchon, Dryden, Romoff, or Gordon? Masters of the outer reaches of a Maximalist/Minimalist spectrum such as Kroll, Reitemeyer, or De Blauwer? I have for some time lamented the lack of a visual-arts phenomenon equivalent to how musicians have traditionally improvised together, but my recent awareness of dynamic collaborations between collage artists is forcing me to change my mind. Is it time for me to take a closer look at the creative fusions instigated by Collins, Holmes, Daughters, or Wilkin?

My, my . . . have we just laid out another year or more of entries? And I have not yet “scraped the working surface” of all the collage artists who make the contemporary scene so exciting. Do I possess the necessary wisdom to tame my ambitions and “shorten sail?” My mind rebels at the idea that I cannot be an artist and a writer, too. I am no scholar, and some art historians would scoff at my correlations, but I cling to the notion that there is a place for insights about our medium that can come only from a person who faces the same challenges as my working peers when confronting a pile of scrap.

One more thought: As the digital age sweeps over the planet, is there also taking place a not-so-quiet backlash against the erosion of manual dexterity? If so, is there a more compelling counter-trend example than the current explosion of tearing, cutting, assembling, transferring, and pasting? And beyond the familiar “analog” technique, what can be said about the deep influence of visual collage on the preponderance of montage in all things sensory — music, performance, film, and media design? This site can become a place where all of this is explored, discussed, shared, and challenged. Much of that is up to you, valued reader. Meanwhile, I shall continue to see, write, and make more art. Stop by again, soon!
 

Every Instinct of My Being Rebels
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7 x 5 inches
available for purchase
 
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Structural Integrity

Friday, September 7th, 2012

“Though he was not connected with any political party, his art was regularly vilified as a threat to traditional German values, while he himself was denounced as ‘unpatriotic’ or, just as often, insane. Yet Schwitters thrived on public opposition, and from 1919 to 1923 he created a succession of Merz pictures which are now seen as his greatest contribution to twentieth century art. These pictures carry an inner tension that derives from the sensitive juxtaposition of abstraction and realism, aesthetics and rubbish, art and life, and their innate dynamism is one of the characteristics of Merz.”
— Gwendolen Webster

Today’s featured collage, inspired by some of the superlative work being done by my friends during this centennial year for the medium, is a bit larger than my typical miniature. To produce an “artifact,” I began with the cover of a ruined book, and before long I realized I had a strictly nonrepresentational composition on my hands. Created spontaneously at a close viewing distance, it wasn’t until I stepped back after completion that it brought to mind the kind of image one might view from the window of an upper story, looking across an urban landscape, with light and shadow playing off facades and roof lines. The way in which the mind attempts to unravel layers of symbolic meaning from the purely abstract is endlessly intriguing to me.

Those of us who create art within this particular genre are indebted to the increasingly exalted legacy of Kurt Schwitters and his original conception of Merz. I often think about how we have been liberated to explore the inexhaustible potential of this approach and to disclose our aesthetic vision within the accepted playground of modern art. Never forget that the man who fully defined this visual language for us did so at genuine risk to his personal freedom and safety. We may not always describe our works as a tribute to the enduring idea of Merz, but that is precisely what they are. Schwitters said, “Merz means creating relationships, preferably between all things in the world.” One fine aspect of that is the new connections and friendships that grow out of mutual interest in collage during its one-hundredth year. Check out the online galleries of Launa D Romoff, Teri Dryden, Scott Gordon, and Joan Schulze. You may agree with me that these artists are among today’s “Heirs to KS.” I hope to discover many more and to share their creative output at this site. Please stop by again soon.
 
Structural Integrity by J A Dixon

Structural Integrity
collage artifact by J A Dixon
8 x 10.5 inches

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