Book Review: Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage
Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage. Robert Klanten, Hendrick Hellige and James Gallagher (editors). Berlin: Die Gestalten Verlag. ISBN 978-3-899-55338-3
Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage is an oversized portfolio jam packed with collages from (if I've counted correctly) 83 contemporary artists. In his foreword, editor James Gallagher describes the book as "one immense collage itself." Though there would have been plenty of room to give readers some biographical information about each of the artists included in the collection, the editors opted instead to let the works speak for themselves--something as a student as well as practitioner of collage, I find both a plus and minus.
The strength of the book is that it lets viewers get an up close look at the collages. It provides an intimate look at a wide variety of collages made from varying materials: cut paper, digital images and photographs, ephemera (playing cards, magazine pages, fabric), some drawn or painted and all manipulated to yield results that are surprising, playful and, in some cases, really weird. It's here that I felt myself wishing the editors had provided some information to help put the contemporary works of art in context.
Dr. Silke Krohn does offer "A Brief History of the Twentieth Century Collage" in teeny, tiny type that takes the reader from cubist artist George Braque (see Still Life with Fruit Bowl and Glass - 1912) to modern collage artists with short stops to discuss the Italian Futurists, Dadaists, Kurt Schwitter's Merz Movement, the Surrealists (both European and American), and other movements which used collage as a tool for pushing aesthetic, social or political boundaries. Sadly absent from this historical overview are women artists, save Hannah Hoch, though contemporary women artists are included in the collected works within the book itself.
I admit to having mixed feelings about this book. The tiny typeface used throughout the book and lack of information about the specific artists involved in the collection are a bit irksome. But, the more I spend time with the images themselves (whether I "get them" or not), the more I appreciate the editors' desire to make the collaged imagery within the book tell its own story. Gallagher writes: "...collage is all about the recycling, reinterpretation and reprocessing of our collective past, present and future. And it is the perfect medium for our time."
I do believe he is right.
If you read this book, please let me know what you think!
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