Collision is about how artists across time, and aesthetics, express their ideas about, and responses to, their worlds. Collage as technique is about the combination of different art forms or media to create a larger picture. However, in Collision, students will see that artists mix, juxtapose and collide thoughts and ideas through their use of collage. Collision features works by Fernand Léger, Frank Stella, Bruce Conner, Robert Rauschenberg, and Wangechi Mutu; this collection of ideas and aesthetics gives students a look into the evolution of styles and techniques, as well as exposing students to different cultures, ideas and historical events.
Held in the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Collision begins with Fernand Léger, whose paintings during his mechanical period feature a collage of machine parts overlapped and intertwined. Léger was focused less on depicting the reality of machinery, but rather commented on the reliance on the mechanical in everyday life. The works chosen to represent Léger’s thoughts on the mechanical are his 1924 work “Eléments Mécaniques” (Mechanical Elements) and an untitled work from 1925. Both feature various machine parts layered, intertwined and twisted over each other, resembling the collage work of many of the other featured artists.
Bruce Conner’s works thematically capture the idea of lost and found, as he collected many of the items in his colleges by happening upon them. Connor’s 1963 “Knox” and 1964 “Looking Glass” both speak to thoughts on consumer culture and beauty. Connor’s works lend themselves to the thoughts of the viewer, which is a strength in Collision.
Connor’s works in assemblage pair well with the works of Frank Stella, whose works during the 1980s feature a myriad of materials melded and constructed together. For this exhibit Stella’s “The Great Heidelburgh Tun” (1988) and “The Grand Armada” (1989) feature layered materials such as linoleum and aluminum with silkscreen and other mixed media. Stella’s work during this period related to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, however these works are as ambiguous as Connor’s work and just as intriguing.
Robert Rauschenberg’s works “Estate” (1963), “On Hold” (1996), and “Mirthday Man” (1997) bring a refreshing lightness to Collision. All of the works feature different techniques and ideas that showcase Rauschenberg as a creative mastermind. The works focus on his responses to popular culture and everyday life, which resonate with the works of all the artists in Collision.
Closing out the collection of works is Wangechi Mutu whose works focus on perceptions of black women. “The Bride Who Married a Camel’s Head” (2009) and “Riding Death in My Sleep” (2002) are both works that exhibit the artist’s attraction to using different materials and subject matters to speak on behalf of women and their lives/bodies. She often uses pieces cut from beauty magazines and pornography to depict scenes of women as warriors and creatures.
All of the artists featured in Collision have used collage, and in places assemblage, to not only bring dimension and texture to the works, but also produce layers of meaning and thought for audiences.