Archive for August, 2013

Cosmorama with Rhino

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.”
— Confucius

Like reading a past entry in a journal, it is often interesting to scrutinize an older artwork. Awareness of what one does the same and what one has refined to do differently can be quite informative. Sometimes, after doing this, I am slightly disappointed to acknowledge a more skillful handling of a basic technique. Preferably, this activity brings a certain kind of satisfaction that comes with perceived attainment. Continuous improvement must be built on both emotions.

Cosmorama with Rhino
mixed media and collage
J A Dixon, 2006
collection of V K Birney

Maximalism and Minimalism in Collage, part 5

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

“I have devoted myself to the technique of cut-paper collage.”
— Hope Kroll

Mysterious and spooky? Could it be possible that I am examining an art collection in the Addams mansion? No. The essence is far too rarefied for that. Do I instead find myself at a museum of lost Victorian curiosities? No. The effect is much too audacious for that. Perhaps you already have guessed my desirable plight. Yes, dear reader, I am slowly steeping in the sublime virtuosity of a Hope Kroll collage.

Known to many as the “paper surgeon,” the artwork of Hope Kroll would be astonishing enough for her extraordinarily meticulous “scissorship,” but she has clearly decided to put her demanding technique into service for eloquent visual statements that intrigue both the mind and eye. As Cecil Touchon points out, this would be outstanding enough, but she does not stop there. In most of her collage assemblies, she also introduces a signature three-dimensionality to heighten the surreal impression. A maximalist at heart, the prolific artist would certainly agree with Milton Glaser that “Less in not necessarily more.” Somehow she manages, time after time, to achieve unified outcomes from highly complex compositions, while at the same time evoking a powerful atmosphere that first entices, then engrosses, and finally beguiles the observer. I occasionally find her work a bit unsettling, but never unsavory, and always aesthetically exquisite. Like a fine bouillabaisse, her creations delight multiple senses.

Sample a few of her delicious recipes below and “hope,” as I do, that she continues to make many more.

Hope Kroll, 2003

Hope Kroll, 2006

The Way Children Learn
Hope Kroll, 2010

Science And Faith
Hope Kroll, 2008

Thought Process
Hope Kroll, 2009

Ghost in the Machine
Hope Kroll, 2012

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013


Untitled (ingénue experiment)
collage miniature by J A Dixon
11 x 7 inches, not for sale

Theme and Variation in Collage, part 2

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

“But now I had these targets, and something grand in me wanted to make the two divergent threads — one of my artwork, one of my father — intertwine.”
— Laura Tringali Holmes

An increasingly engaging form of collaboration in collage is the coming together of a diverse group to explore the shared concept. In my last post we looked at an example in which the participants artistically exploited an image or thematic suggestion. Today we feature a remarkable project launched by L T Holmes that makes use of nearly identical vintage paper targets she has magnanimously provided to those taking part. Anyone reading this is urged to investigate her recent blog entry that offers an affecting backstory for the “Target Practice” initiative.

As this outstanding series takes shape, I cannot help but think of the Merz painting, “Hitler Gang,” and how KS (as usual) was just a bit ahead of us. If he thought a target was a cool collage ingredient nearly 70 years ago, I am, for one, quite content to continue digging the ground he broke. At least we are not fearing for our personal safety, thank heaven.

Friday, 1963
collage miniature by J A Dixon
vintage target from L T Holmes
6 x 7 inches
Purchase this artwork!

Sweet Contamination

Friday, August 9th, 2013

The thematic series has a long tradition in the visual arts. Collage and assemblage are no different, thanks to the groundbreaking legacy of Joseph Cornell. Preparations are under way for me to expand the Silk Road Series that I began in March. Creating variations within a thematic limitation has also become a fixture of current collaboration in collage. An artist will suggest the visual parameter (such as T R Flowers did recently with an “Atomic Bombs” album at facebook) and participants respond with their individual interpretations. Here’s my contribution to that particular series:

Sweet Contamination
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7.875 x 5.5 inches
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The joy of looking . . .

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Scopophilia, the postcard collage exhibition, has been featuring contributions at its Website. It is always a delight to see new names and fresh approaches to our medium. I must admit that there is much for me to learn about the history and current state of Mail Art, which has always been closely tied to collage, based on the trends set in motion by Ray Johnson and his collaborators.

My thanks to British artist Theo Miller for his ongoing management of the Scopophilia project. Many of us look forward to learning if the volume of submissions will culminate in a physical exhibition.

A Tempting Inclination
collage on post card, 6 x 4 inches
by J A Dixon for Scopophilia exhibition

Wicked Pinch

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013


Wicked Pinch
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4 x 6.125 inches
Purchase this artwork!