Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage

The Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art play host to the first-ever survey exhibition of collage in the world. With over 260 collected works, spanning the evolution of collage over 400 years; this exhibition comprehensively catalogues the journey from pastime to artists’ passion.

The exhibition with sticking power.

Although collage has its connections with 20th century culture, its rich history can be seen in its first state in Japan, as far back as the 1100s. The obsession for the medium took Europe by storm and the exhibition holds countless examples of how the fascination took hold. From early flap books filled with anatomical curiosities to double exposure revealing the ‘spirit world’; these early examples help us piece together the beginnings of modern collage.

In its earlier years, this work was largely seen as a female hobby and often an accomplishment in high society. The collective works of cubist and surrealist artists such as Pablo Picasso, Dada and Juan Gris helped secure collaging as a professional pursuit. Though this period demonstrates a satirical element, it is still quite far removed from the modern art form we see today. Curator, Patrick Elliot, draws out the narrative well, highlighting the raw element of these pieces, that will go on to inspire many of the artists featured.

A burst of colour, life and activism is woven through the rest of the rooms as we are lead through 20th century collage and its undertones of rebellion. The emphasis of the entire show is on the rise of disruptive art and adopting a new narrative. Elliot has provided a varied palette of artists and works to show the versatility of collage; from political propaganda to the empowerment of the art form in pursuit of equality.

National Galleries Scotland have created a wonderfully refreshing look at an accessible and insightful art form. With a range of female artists featured such as; Valentine Penrose, Hannah Hoch and Penny Slinger, it arguably boasts a much better balance than the male-led mediums of previous periods. Collages and cultivating a rebellion, Cut and Paste | 400 Years of Collage is the exhibition with sticking power. Cut and Paste has demonstrated that collage has the power to transform the narrative of a piece even today, as we bring collage practices into the digital age.

Reviews by Amy Macrae

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The Blurb

This first survey exhibition of collage ever to take place anywhere in the world spans more than 250 works, from 16th-century anatomical flap prints to computer-based images. It includes work by amateur, professional and unknown artists; collages by children and revolutionary cubist masterpieces by Picasso and Juan Gris; nineteenth-century do-it-yourself collage kits and collage films of the 1960s. Highlights include a three-metre-long folding collage screen purportedly made in part by Charles Dickens, and the only surviving original source photographs for Peter Blake’s collaged cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper.

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