Line Collage

Exercise 2.3 involves two A3 size collages, one white background, one plain colored background. Then an A4 and A5 collage, all of one object.

For the A3, white background, I wanted to explore using randomly cut straight and curved lines to form the outline of an object.

I started with this:

IMG_2060

And it became this:

Part Two, Exercise 2.3

Part Two, Exercise 2.3

Not particularly interesting. So I thought, what if I cut out the shape’s outline in one continuous piece, but on 4 different papers, cut those up and reassembled them:

Part Two, Exercise 2.3I liked this much better, it reminded me of a quilt, but felt it needed more:

Part Two, Exercise 2.3I’m rather pleased with this one. The colors work well together, and the contrast provides interest. It makes me wonder how it would look if the same papers were woven, then cut out into the cup shape.

Part Two, Ex. 2.2, Block Silhouette

Block Silhouette

I chose the Teatime theme.

Experimenting with shapes:

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

That raised the question, once cut out, does the shape need to stay together?

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

I am happy with this one. I felt the prints on the pot, cups, etc., balanced well with the bright orange-red of the ‘tea’ and it has the slightly chaotic feel I wanted. Originally I used more pastel/floral papers for the crockery, but felt the steampunk style paper lent more to the overall tumultuous feeling.

The next one did not work well. I liked the notion of the teapots hunting, but overall it’s too busy, with no real focal point.

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

I was thinking about the next exercise, Line, in my journal:

IMG_2025and playing with watercolors:

IMG_2007Which led to another block collage, on a woven newsprint background:

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

Part Two, Ex. 2.2

I wanted to contrast the innocuous teapot and cup, as well as the fading primary colors with the mesh of dark news in the background, and I’m pleased with the result. You might notice that the cups are completely glued down, and the pots are not. I’m not sure which way is better, though since texture is not a part of this exercise, I suppose I will eventually glue them all flat.

I’d still like to try some version of my original journal idea!

Romare Bearden (Part Two: Collage, Ex. 2.1)

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden (1911-1988) was a versatile American artist, exploring many different media. Painting, printmaking and collage, caricature, set design, writing and songwriting were all part of his work.

Bearden grew up in Harlem, and his family home “became a meeting place for Harlem Renaissance luminaries” ¹, including writers, painters and Jazz musicians. He also was a social worker in New York City, even after he achieved artistic success². These influences can be seen in his collages, as many portray daily life in Harlem, or Jazz club scenes:

https://i1.wp.com/americanart.si.edu/images/1996/1996.71_1a.jpg

Empress of the Blues

1974 acrylic and pencil on paper and printed paper on paperboard 36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in part through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment 1996.71 Not currently on view

As Biography.com said, “his works depict aspects of family culture in a semiabstract (sic) collage and Cubist style³. Spring Way is a good example of this, with its contrast of dark realism seen in the black and white street photos, versus the pops of brightly colored shapes:

https://i1.wp.com/americanart.si.edu/images/1999/1999.9_1a.jpg

Spring Way

1964 collage on paperboard sheet and image: 6 5/8 x 9 3/8 in. (16.8 x 23.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design 1999.9 Not currently on view

 

The Block is one of Beaden’s most famous works, currently residing, though not on view, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. I can’t reproduce the image here, due to licensing restrictions, but the Met has an inter-active site, Let’s Walk the Block,  that allows for close examination of the whole work.

It is a fascinating, beautiful piece, from 1971, a large collage, on six panels, measuring 4×18′. Each panel shows a different aspect of city life, as Bearden saw it from a friend’s window, though he moved away from a literal interpretation, to a more imaginative one (http://metmuseum.org/content/interactives/the_block/foot5.html).

I find the range of street life represented fascinating. At the beginning, there are families and well-dressed people outside a neighborhood liquor store, while upstairs you see children in a room with a mousetrap for a window shade. The third panel depicts a funeral, complete with angels helping the soul to heaven. More religious imagery can be seen in the fourth panel, where an angel is blessing an unborn child, contrasting the primary colors and simple shapes of the next building.

There is an ironic touch of having a church in the fourth panel, while homeless people are being frowned upon in front of the next building. The windows above the barber shop contain slightly disturbing images, perhaps representing the darker side of the city, and conveyed by Bearden’s use of muddier colors and less crisp lines. The use of different panels disrupts the flow of the scene, perhaps to add the chaotic feel of city life.

Bearden was a strong voice for African-American artists and culture, as well as being an incredibly diverse artist, though I chose to focus only on his collages. I found his life very interesting and his work fascinating and inspiring.

Reference:

Corlett, M.L. (2009) From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden. New York: Romare Bearden Foundation/ California: Pomegranite Communications

Romare Bearden. [Internet]. Available from http://www.romare-bearden.com/ [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Romare Bearden Foundation. [Internet]. The Bearden Foundation. Available from: http://www.beardenfoundation.org/index2.shtml [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Let’s Walk the Block. [Internet]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from: http://metmuseum.org/metmedia/interactives/art-trek/romare-bearden-lets-walk-the-block  [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Spring Way. [Internet]. Available from: http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=37393 [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

The Art of Romare Bearden. [Internet]. National Gallery of Art. Available from: http://www.nga.gov/feature/bearden/index.shtm [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].

Romare Howard Bearden. [Internet]. 2014. The Biography.com website. Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/romare-bearden-40540 [Accessed 07 Oct 2014].