A collage is an assemblage of bits and pieces of found art usually of great variety. When the pieces are combined the result may be a work of art with an element of novelty. This art form was first used apparently at the time of the invention of paper in China around 200 B.C., but was developed very little in the intervening years until the 10th century. At that time calligraphers glued paper to stronger surfaces. Later advances in collage were made in Medieval Europe in the 13th century. However, many suggest that the collage did not really emerge as an important art form until after 1900 with the early beginnings of modernism, as Cubism developed.
Pablo Picasso may have been the first to use the collage technique in painting. In retrospect his efforts and those of other cubists were seen as a beginning attempt to study the relationship between painting and sculpture. Placing and fixing pieces of found objects next to a significant feature in a painting for both serious and perhaps even humorous effect was basic to the collage. The effects of such mixing were sometimes incongruous or novel but seemingly never ordinary.
Later the collage moved into the realm of the Surrealists. Matisse experimented with the less realistic collage or decoupage as did others. Many other types of collage are now differentiated. These include the Wood Collage, Photo-montage and the Digital (computer-generated) Collage.
Today many different strategies can be used in constructing collages. Many basic styles, backings and methods of adhering pieces of art to backings have been employed. You basically assemble pieces, lay them out in the artistic arrangement you prefer and glue them down to the preferred surface. There are many descriptions on the internet that can be followed. There is no trouble finding one just by googling “collage.”
My own experience with the collage deals with the construction of a rather large collage (50 inches tall by 15 inches across). It was intended to be hung on the back wall of the shower in our cottage next to a commode. The idea was that one would have something pleasant and beautiful to look at while one finished one’s business.
I collected beautiful photos, mostly of people and scenes from magazines. Many of these came from the Sunday New York Times magazine. After about four years I had collected a very large number of photos. I cut them all down to size and placed them into what I considered to be attractive groupings. When I laid out the cut outs I found that I had about three times as many as I needed. I had a lot to choose from. I arranged them as best I could and over a 2-3 week period replaced some of the photos with others, mixed and matched and pondered which to use and which not to use.
When I had what I considered to be the best, most artistic collection of photos in the best relationship, I glued them to heavy but thin artistic cardboard and placed a second cardboard and weights over the collage for several days until the glued had thoroughly dried. I then placed it in the frame and hung it in the bathroom, where it has remained for over 15 years to the great delight of all those who have visited.