Cut and Paste

Once Marcel Duchamp began creating his ready-mades more than a century ago the existing object entered the domain of art. Precisely a year earlier, Picasso and Braque had introduced the technique of collage, and when they included newspapers clippings into their work, material from the non-art context of mass media became artistic material. The picture ceased to be a representation of reality, and “real life” entered the picture instead. Their experiments, which involved reconnecting fragments of various images and introducing pre-existing objects into a new work, were continued by various artists throughout the entire 20th and into the 21st century. The collage genre was further developed by avant-garde artists like the Futurists, Dadaists and Constructivists, by the neo-avant-garde movements like Fluxus, and in Pop art as well as in visual poetry. Artists experimented both with form and meaning. Questioning the originality and authenticity of an artwork as such, together with questions of gathering and appropriation, gained momentum, particularly in postmodernism. Now all working fields became open to and for exchange. Styles, motifs, fragments, even entire works by other artists, as well as objects and content from popular culture, everyday speech, ideological, religious and theoretical messages could be rearranged to create a new artwork. By bringing pre-existing images into new systems or frameworks of meaning established by a new artwork, artists were reinterpreting their original meaning, revealing both their relative character and the dependence-link between meaning and context. Instead of describing content, artists borrow content from mass media, ideology, religion and art itself, and import it into their artworks in order to address broader social, political and artistic issues. Ranging from formal experiments with collage to visual poetry and conceptual art, the selected examples demonstrate what cut and paste in contemporary art means, and how it works.

“Discovering Art” is an educational portal where you can discover interesting facts about art and museums of art.

The online portal Discovering Art is the collaborative effort of four institutions:

Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Fundació Antoni Tàpies from Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška from Slovenj Gradec.

The portal is part of the European project Performing the Museum.