Changes In Traditional Materials

Another facet of the new art styles was the exploration of materials not previously employed by artists. These experiments with materials occurred in many art movements, and have continued throughout this century as new materials and technologies have become available.

Assemblage is a broad term which refers to two and three dimensional art works which combine diverse materials traditionally not considered as art materials. Such works are also called collages, (usually when the work is two dimensional) and may include scraps of paper, cloth, wood, string, or any other materials selected by the artist. This form was first given credibility when Picasso, experimented with printed paper, rope, and newsprint combined with painting, and was also taken up by early twentieth century artists such as Man Ray, and Kurt Schwitters. Marcel Duchamp , a founder of the DaDa movement, combined supposedly unrelated objects and materials and then gave them deliberately outrageous though evocative titles such as "Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors." Use of collage and assemblage continued into the Surrealist movement in the work of Max Ernst, Hanna Hoch, and Joseph Cornell. These artists believed that in the newly dawning industrial age, the use of manufactured materials was an appropriate means of expressing the realities of the twentieth century.

Found objects or "objet trouve" were also employed by Duchamp and Picasso. Manufactured objects were rearranged or placed in a new context in a way that altered their meaning. Others who have used found objects include Alexander Calder, and John Chamberlain. Duane Hanson and George Segal combined fiber glass or plaster casts of real people with actual clothing and furnishings to create "real" environments for their eerily convincing figures. This use of plaster and fiberglass to replicate real human bodies was a significant innovation, and a departure from conventional ideas about how sculpture should be done.

Movement in art Since the earliest times artists have sought to create the illusion of movement in their works, with varying degrees of success. The invention of time lapse photography and motion pictures introduced new ideas about the way in which motion could be recorded. Such artists as the Futurists (Boccioni, Severini , Balla) and Marcel Duchamp in his "Nude Descending a Staircase" attempted to capture movement as an event in time, showing simultaneous fragments of the process of movement. Literal movement becomes part of the repertoire of art with the introduction of the mobile by Alexander Calder. By the 1960's Kinetic Art presents us with sculptures driven by motors, wind, and in due course, by computers. This video shows the work of digital artist Nathaniel Stern, an alumni of this department, and now teaching art at the University of Wisconsin. Film and video are of course extremely important media in which movement and the fourth dimension - time - are key elements. Video and film are also ways to capture the ephemeral performance of kinetic art, as is the case in this example.

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