Montage and collage as reportage?

Looking at John Hartfield’s art I was interested to see that montage was such an important medium. I had imagined that collage and montage was more of a decorative art or illustration. How wrong I was. Heartfield’s work is described by Peter Pachnicke and Kalus Bonner as “ …it allows the viewer to develop his own thoughts imagination and sensual perceptiveness.” The images that I saw in my research were varied in content but mostly black and white photomontage or with limited palettes. His pioneering  use of typography is inspiring. Within his political work  his powerful  messages in the context of Nazi Germany are almost an historical record of Hitler’s rise to power. As such they remain relevant today.

Martha Rosler’s collage work was less interesting to me. Although the feminist emphasis is still important I feel the images in this context are dated.

I like the depths in some of Peter Kennards work particularly the pieces connected with the news truck . I noticed that a lot of his work is also in black-and-white .

After looking at Hannah Hochs work I felt inspired to do something with a human figure . From all of these artists I understood the need to keep the image sharp and uncluttered , and to be very careful with colour.

Further research took me to Suzanne Sbarge and her mixed media work using paint and collage. Although her images appear to be exotic and less about a specific message , I find them very attractive and thought-provoking .

When doing this exercise I found myself thinking about the format, the composition , the message , the context , how it might be received by different audiences , and if the image would stand the test of time.

Also had in mind the McLuhan quote : “The medium is the message.” Although I can see that this is not altogether true, the collage and photomontage work does reflect some of the strange relationships of the their time. There is a message in this particular medium which feels as if it is emphasised by the juxtapositions of images.


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