The work Untitled by Frida Orupabo

Frida Orupabo, Untitled, 2019 © Frida Orupabo. Photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet

29.10 2019

Collage and assemblage

Collage in modern art is an approach that goes back to the early 1900s, when artists combined found materials into new entities. Some artists used this as a way of linking art to current affairs and criticising aesthetic and political ideals, while others made collages with inspiration from psychoanalysis. Read the introduction to the room titled ”Collage and assemblage”.

By composing unlikely objects or pictures into surrealist or dream-like visions, the artists could set the imagination going and channel the unconscious.

After the Second World War, a new generation of artists adopted this approach and called it assemblage. Their materials often included discarded objects or things that seemed worthless. This became a way of rejecting hierarchies in art and demands for purity, in favour of “anti-aesthetics”, where anything in everyday life could be used for experiments.

Kurt Schwitters, Mit Spinne [With Spider], 1921 © Kurt Schwitters / Bildupphovsrätt 2013
Toyen, Mythe de la lumière [The Myth of Light], 1946 © Toyen / Bildupphovsrätt 2019

Öyvind Fahlström’s ”Dr. Schweitzer’s Last Mission” (1964–1966) is the hub of this room. The installation applies the collage method to question early-20th century Eurocentric notions of truth and enlightened narratives. The relationship between the parts of the work changes depending on your location in the room. Some of the elements in the installation are moveable – it was made so it could be rearranged by the artist. Fahlström called this work an “picture organ”, meaning that it generates pictures rather than being a picture.

In our digital era, the collage method is such a natural part of everyday life and how artists work that we hardly even think about it. Some contemporary artists, however, re-visit the form of the analogue collage as a method to challenge historic truths and dominating narratives.

Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram, 1955–59 Purchase 1965 with contribution from The Friends of Moderna Museet. © Estate of Robert Rauschenberg / Bildupphovsrätt 2016, Stockholm/VAGA, NY.

You find the room in the Collection on floor 4

Published 29 October 2019 · Updated 5 November 2019