Book Review: Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists

Collage A Complete Guide For Artists book cover.

Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists by Anne Brigadier. 1970. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. ISBN 978-0-823-00650-2

The overriding theme for this book, Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists, by Anne Brigadier is "what would happen if I tried this?" Brigadier's thought to take notes and photographs of her process of experimenting with a vast array of papers and found objects that offers readers an insight into the many ways to alter those materials to get the desired effects: waxing, folding, tearing, scorching, burning, painting and much more.

Brigadier writes:

The most valuable suggestion I can make is that you try any ideas that occur to you. Don't be impeded by conventions that dictate what materials are and aren't compatible. Many of the discoveries I've made came from my determination to see what would happen if I tried unlikely combinations. Often, while experimenting with one idea in mind, I accidentally came upon unexpected, but exciting results." (p. 185)
 Left: Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance by  Jean (Hans) Arp  in Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists.

Left: Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance by Jean (Hans) Arp in Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists.

The first chapters of the book take readers through a brief history of collage, tools and materials, found objects, grounds, primers, plus three chapters on papers (magazines and newspapers, art papers, and tissues). At each step of the way, Brigadier explains the strengths and weaknesses of the materials and offers ideas for manipulating the materials for unique effects. I had no idea there were so many types of papers. The list is extensive and I will definitely be checking out these options.

 Left: (Top) Fantasy by Anne Brigadier, (Bottom) Low tide by Anne Brigadier in Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists

Left: (Top) Fantasy by Anne Brigadier, (Bottom) Low tide by Anne Brigadier in Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists

The most fascinating parts of the book for me were the chapters on preparing and altering the materials by printing (with sponges, cheesecloth, and other materials), using encaustics, smoking, scorching and burning (with caution), tearing, scraping and cutting, stapling, and adding color with a variety of media (dyes, crayons, inks, etc.). Brigadier covers a lot of ground in these chapters, provides color photos and well as black and white, and offers personal insights into getting the most out of these processes.

 Left: Oil in water prints in Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists

Left: Oil in water prints in Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists

I think this book could seem overwhelming for very beginning collage artists. But, Collage: A Complete Guide for Artists does contain heaps of information on what materials might be useful for collage and why, and offers plenty of examples on ways to use and alter those materials for artwork that is uniquely your own. For myself, I plan to dig out my art journal and start playing around with some of the ideas. The chapter on burning and scorching papers just might have brought out my inner pyro.

Have you read this book? Let me know what I've got wrong (or right!).

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Cheers!--Janyce

 

 

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