Image Scavengers: Collage, Montage, and Appropriation in 20th Century Art

This course introduces students to a broad cross section of 20th century art and culture through the study of the related creative techniques of collage, assemblage, montage, construction, and appropriation. The collage technique (the incorporation of found or appropriated “non-original” or “non-art” material) is arguably the most significant and original technical innovation of 20th century art.

During the past century, these techniques have been central to questioning traditional pictorial and sculpture models, conceptions of the nature of the art object, the connection of art to reality, the relation of high art to popular culture, and the commodity status of art. In short, these techniques have been central to the theorization of modern and contemporary art. We will examine the deployment of these techniques in the context of Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism, Pop Art, Minimalism, and more recent art. Through the close study of works of art employing these techniques and relevant primary texts, this course will provide students with a visually informed critical understanding of some of the central issues of 20th century art.

Prerequisites: Art History core course

Erika Wolf:

Erika Wolf is an art historian with particular interest in modernism and modernity, Soviet visual culture, propaganda, and cross-cultural representation. A native New Yorker, from 2013 to 2018 she was an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History at the University of Otago (New Zealand), where she taught since 2003. She completed a bachelor degree in Sociology and Science in Human Affairs at Princeton University, after which she was a curatorial studies fellow in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program. After working several years at the Whitney, she took up graduate study at the University of Michigan, completing a doctorate in the History of Art and a master degree in Russian & Eastern European Studies. She has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the International Research Exchange Board, the Center for Advanced Studies of the Visual Arts, the Kennan Institute, and the Harriman Institute. She has contributed to exhibition projects at international art museums, including the Reina Sofia in Madrid and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, the International Center of Photography granted an Infinity Award to the Reina Sofia publication The Worker Photography Movement, an anthology to which she made extensive contributions and provided assistance in editing and translation for the English edition. She was recently named an Honorary Research Associate of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and Regensburg University, Germany.