The cutting edge: contemporary art collage

Elliott Hundley

Elliott Hundley, contemporary collage

Soon after he first started working with collage, LA artist Elliott Hundley (b. 1975) had a startling realisation.

Using his mother's "very small" living room as a makeshift studio, it suddenly occurred to him that "the room was much more interesting than the actual piece of paper I was putting everything on."

Elliott Hundley

This insight led to a literal expansion of his practice, with the artist abandoning flat surfaces for works that blur the lines between collage, sculpture and assemblage.

These sprawling structures expand into space (left), imposing yet fragile concoctions of bamboo, plastics and string combined with photographs, paintings and drawings.

Other, wall-based works at first appear flat, but consist of individual elements pinned, rather than pasted, into position to create complex topographies.

Recent examples of this dizzying take on the humble pin-board are particularly impressive, with large-scale works such as Pentheus, 2010 (details page top and below) featuring literally thousands of constituents.

Meticulously clipped images jostle for space along with beads, trimmings, tiny trinkets, fragments of text and various other repurposed leftovers. (Magnifying glasses are also helpfully embedded in order to appraise the wealth of detail).

Elliott Hundley

Yet these extraordinary extremes of labour-intensivity are, in fact, merely the tip of the production iceberg, with Hundley also preparing much of his raw material in advance: photographing friends to capture specific gestures, for example, or making paintings and drawings for inclusion in a specific piece.

This aspect of his practice, combined with a relatively recent interest in Greek drama, accentuates a performative dimension which ultimately manifests as an intense theatricality, and which the wall reliefs in particular bring to the fore through a latent fluidity of narrative and composition.

Despite the almost infinite interconnections of association they already offer, each pinned fragment or player is potentially moveable, an entirely new production always inherent.

Elliott Hundley, contemporary collage



Kirstine Roepstorff

contemporary collage - Kirstine Roepstorff

Berlin-based Danish artist Kirstine Roepstorff (b.1972) is not only known for beautifully crafted collages, but celebrated, too, for an expansive engagement with the medium which has continually sought to broaden its parameters.

Kirstine Roepstorff

Early works such as You Are Being Lied To (2002, above), employ commercial photomurals as ready-made backgrounds for dozens of clipped images augmented by sequins, beads and glitter.

These colourful, faintly kitsch panoramas were soon followed by greater emphasis on the possible components of collage; elaborate mixed-media confections in which the aforementioned sequins and glitter join forces with materials such as fabrics, glass, foil, tinsel and pearls.

Combined, to varying degrees, with newspaper clippings and photocopied images, many of these dizzying, though perfectly balanced, constellations of pattern, texture and colour appear to approach total abstraction (below).

Kirstine Roepstorff -contemporary collage artists

This new accent on materials was accompanied by analogous revision of the traditional pictorial space occupied by collage.

Rejecting confinement to the flat, wall-mounted support, many of Roepstorff's works extrude into their surroundings, can be displayed as hangings, or exist as multi-part installations.

Most recently, the artist has begun to investigate sleekly sculptural forms (final image), kinetic pieces and ambitiously immersive audiovisual installation.

Kirstine Roepstorff

"Everything matters, even if it doesn't seem to", Roepstorff has stated, and the visual drama so evident in her practice is fused with earnest - if far less immediate - philosophical and political musings hinted at in the titles of her works, choice of imagery and content of the newspaper clippings incorporated into many pieces.

For Roepstorff, her use of collage expresses an ultimate desire "... to appropriate and rearrange the world"; an endeavour which the artist succinctly describes as 'appropriarranging'.

Charting territories confirmed or upheld by the assault of visual information with which we are bombarded, Roepstorff interrogates the role of image in constructing, compounding or reflecting the world's realities - and attempts to formulate new ones of her own.

collage in contemporary art: Kirstine Roepstorff

next: David Thorpe and Hilary Pecis

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