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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Décollage, in art, is the opposite of collage; instead of an image being built up of all or parts of existing images, it is created by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing, pieces of an original image. Examples include inimage or etrécissements and excavations. A similar technique is the lacerated poster, a poster in which one has been placed over another or others, and the top poster or posters have been ripped, revealing to a greater or lesser degree the poster or posters underneath.

The French word "décollage" translates into English literally as "take-off" or "to become unstuck." It is now commonly used in the French language in regard to aviation (as when an aeroplane lifts off the ground). More recently the term has been used in space flight; the web page for ESA indicates its use equivalent to "We have lift-off!" at a NASA launch center.

The lacerated poster became an artform as early as 1949, and the term was coined in avante-garde journals by Emilio Villa in 1955. The exact chain-of-influence among artists is still to be determined by art historians. Although artist Mark Kostabi claims that "Mimmo Rotella invented the technique of using torn posters to make art in the early 1950s"[1], examples of the genre done without any surrealist or artistic intent predate this, as do Raymond Hains'. The lacerated poster was an artistic intervention that sought to critique the newly emerged advertising technique of large-scale colour advertisements. In effect, the decollage destroys the advertisement, but leaves its remnants on view for the public to contemplate.

Lacerated posters are closely related to Richard Genovese's practice of "excavations."

The most celebrated artists of the décollage technique in France, especially of the lacerated poster, are François Dufrene, Jacques Villeglé, Mimmo Rotella and Raymond Hains. Often these artists worked collaboratively and it was their intention to present their artworks in the city of Paris anonymously. These four artists were part of a larger group in the 1960s called Nouveau Réalisme (New realism), Paris' answer to the American Pop movement. This was a mostly Paris-based group (which included Yves Klein and Christo and was created with the help of critic Pierre Restany), although Rotella was Italian and moved back to Italy shortly after the group was formed. Another important practitioner of the décollage was Wolf Vostell. Some early practitioners sought to extract the defaced poster from its original context and to take it into areas of poetry, photography, or painting.

A contemporary artist employing similar décollage techniques is Mark Bradford, who lives and works in Los Angeles.

Brian Dettmer, another contemporary artist, employs a novel method of decollage by removing material from books, leaving behind select images and text to form sculptural collages.

It can be argued that the depliage is a form of decollage, as it is made by initially removing the staples from a staple-bound magazine.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Décollage" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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