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Assemblage Art

Assemblage Art refers to the art of collecting and making compositions of all the material things, varies from junks, wood, paper, stones, and many other things. In the 20th century, many artists had worked in this field to utilize different archeological things. The idea of an assemblage is explored in many ways, the most striking be the movements of Dada and Surrealism. It is a modern way of arts first introduced in the 1950s by one of the founder assemblage artists Jean Dubuffet, who created a series of colleges from the butterfly wings. It is the combination of sculpture and painting, and it made its definition and called the art of assembling. It is closed to the college however a step ahead of this, in some cases, it is hard to differentiate between the two. This art emerged during several movements such as Dadaism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. Here we will discuss the prominent artist and their contributions in the assemblage art. Moreover, will discuss the history of assemblage art and its importance in the field of art and archeology.

Assemblage art founders:

There were many artists who worked to flourished this field of art, here we will discuss some greater contributors to this field. Kurt Schwitters was an active member of the art scene in Germany. The assemblage art evolved and emerged as a separate domain of art, passing through various stages. His famous works were the Merz Picture, which included colleges and assemblages which were created from conceivable materials like wire netting, perambulator wheel, and cotton wool. Some of his work contained imagery and text, however, it was without activism tendencies. Robert Rauschenberg was another prominent innovator of assemblage art, he used some unconventional objects such as trash and things collected from streets in New York and turned them into art. His major contribution to this art was a series of works done from 1954 to 1962, Monogram was his most famous artwork, which was made of cloth, tire, paint, and even stuffed animals. Louise Nevelson was among the greatest assemblage artists who used the monumental wooden works. She used discarded pieces of wood and made extraordinary wooden sculptures in gold and white, spanning various movements, such as Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism. Jean Tinguely was a painter and sculptor from Switzerland, belonged to the Dada movement. He was also among the founders of Kinetic art and Nouveau realisme. He was a musician, and his art included music, performances, and recordings, for that purpose he designed giant sculptures. Assemblage art covered the gap between the pop art sculpture and collage. It used the non-art objects and produced unique art pieces, and contributed to the modern art installation.

History of Assemblage Art

The approach of assemblage art goes back to the cubist construction of Pablo Picasso, who used three-dimensional art pieces in 1912. He made Still Life 1914 form the scrap wood and tablecloth which he glued and painted. He continued with this unique idea throughout his career. In 1918 Kurt Schwitters a Dadaist artist started the use of scrap objects and made several assemblages, and named this technique as “Merz”. Later on, Surrealists were impressed by this idea and surrealist artists used assemblages of unlikely combinations and made surprising sculptures. In the 1950s and onward assemblage art was widely used, that is the reason behind the notion that assembly art began in this era. This approach was popularized in the USA in the mid 20th century by Jim Dine and Robert. The founders of assemblage art Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg used the anti-aesthetic approach of art, and they used scrap materials applied their creative ideas to make sculptures and named it neo-dada. The technique of assemblage was extensively used by many contemporary artists and created a large scale of assemblages from scavenged and already existing objects. The modern assemblage includes the use of old shoes, machine parts, boxes, used plastic bottles, baked bean cans and so on. It is the recombination and renovation of natural and manufactured objects, which were not considered as art materials. “The Art of Assemblage” was the first-ever exhibition in the New York museum in 1961, to show the works by early pioneers of Assemblage art including Picasso, Schwitters, Braque, and Dubuffet. It also showcased the work of American assemblages by artists such as Man Ray and Joseph Cornell.

Transforming trash into treasure:

According to Max (2017) artisans can use relics pieces of jewelry, pieces of broken toys, and hardware to make attractive art pieces. Assemblage art can also utilize certain recycled materials including newspapers, cardboard, and junk mail. Max further argued that Assemblage art refers to the use of discarded and random objects, and through the creativity and artistic skills artisans can make sculptures that are valuable and indicative of the environment. Most of the sculptures of this art are in three dimensions. Nevelson has done remarkable work to collect objects and create art pieces of interest, he didn’t focus on culture and gender, etc. Isaiah Zagar began his career as a muralist in the 1980s and assembled mosaic structures. He also used discarded materials and applied his artistic skills. He created a magic garden with recycled objects in Philadelphia. Manta (2018) argued that assemblage art is the creativity of artists to transform different materials through the social construct. In addition, he argued that creativity seen in the assemblage art doesn’t start at the moment an artist picks a brush or other materials, rather it is the interweaving of various flows. It is the process in which flows of materials and the social flows are connected. Creativity doesn’t refer to the intrinsic personality traits, but a social construct. It is the dynamics of the social world, where the flow of matter, materiality, and social flow are connected in every sculpture and painting.

Assemblage art is explored in many ways, however, in the early twentieth century, the movements of Dada and Surrealism have flourished this idea. The Dadaists sculptures and collages included pieces of everyday objects such as photographs, metal cups, strings, and newsprints. They composed these things and produced new artworks. Using the Dadaistic approach artists produced something interesting and new from the scraps of every day (Hamilakis & Andrew, 2017). On the other hand, Surrealists used collages and assemblages by using plastic, bread baguette, and metal. For instance, a loaf of bread was balanced on the head of a woman by Jean Francois, however, the loaf didn’t last long, so it was remade from plaster. The implications assemblage art was associated with social science, as social scientists have explored assemblages with social ontologies. DeLenda (2006a) argued that assemblages are composed of parts which are expressed by the external relations. Assemblage is also used in archeological practices, that configures material objects, humans, plants, animals, and places by using ideas, techniques, and technologies. The archeological research assisted in reshaping and reconfiguring assemblages in modern ways.

Assemblage art is the latest contribution to the field of art and attracted many artists during the past century. It polished the creativity and artistic skills of artists by using non-art materials and utilizing the scrap objects which were never considered as the art pieces. The modern artists are found keenly interested in this field and doing remarkable work to flourish this innovative idea in art.

Works Cited

Max, Marie. “Assemblage Art: Transforming Trash into Treasure.” (2017).

Manta, Adina. “Demystifying creativity: an assemblage perspective towards artistic creativity.” Creativity Studies 11.1 (2018): 85-101.

Hamilakis, Yannis, and Andrew Meirion Jones. “Archaeology and assemblage.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27.1 (2017): 77-84.

DeLanda, M., 2006a. A New Philosophy of Society. Assemblage theory and social complexity. London: Bloomsbury.



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