Art | December 11, 2020

Mash-up: The Enduring Fusion of High Art and Mass Culture

In 1912 at his Boulevard Raspail studio in Montparnasse, Picasso hung a changing installation of collages on a beige wall over a cot scattered with pillows and papers. He displayed six or seven pieces of new work selected from the nearly hundred collages he had created that year. Most notably, he shared variations on a study of a guitar, a paste-up of wallpaper and cardboard on newsprint. When artists heard about Picasso’s new work, they flocked to his small studio to get a look. Intrigued by the method, futurists such as Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni, and Giacomo Balla began using collage as a method of enriching the surfaces of their works. Picasso’s displays of simple cutting and pasting of the detritus of daily life was declared “a pasted-paper revolution.” The idea moved quickly; collage becoming a favorite medium among international modernists for its playful, ephemeral style and quick, spontaneous process—what Picasso called “one mad rush.”

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