Jessica Helfand | Essays

New Lives for Old Paper

David Wallace, Concussion, 2010 

It's difficult, perhaps impossible to imagine a designer whose eye is not drawn to ephemera — the flimsy, forgettable, never-meant-to-survive bits of two-dimensional matter that circumscribe our daily lives  — and by conjecture, to paper's wondrous reincarnation in collage. Does this not make collage the most sustainable of art forms?

David Wallace's minimal compositions typically involve the most forgotten of long-lost pages — the kind with loopy scribbles, sloppy handwriting, torn and dog-eared pages and arcane, mimeograph-era fonts. His collages celebrate the incidentals (the ink blot, the mess-up) which he brilliantly juxtaposes against found images, as in the image above, where an anonymous scribe once dutifully noted the difference between "compassion" and "concussion". Wallace adds surprisingly little — here, a fragment of a regal bust anchored by the smallest slice of a scotch rule — making for a deceptively simple, but brilliant visual arrangement.

Wallace is one of a number of international artists featured in a spectacular volume out next week from Gestalten — Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage. This work reveals an astonishing assortment of approaches to printed matter, from the almost Caravaggio-inspired gloominess of Javier Rodriguez to the dense pictorial splendor of Angelica Paez and the deft choreographic elegance of Rodrigo de Fillipis.  All in, more than 75 artists are represented here, and for those of you who think print is dead, or who think nostalgia is dumb, or who think collage is passé, think again. This book is a knockout.

Javier Rodriguez

Angelica Paez

Rodrigo De Filippis

On a side note, the printing is disappointing. Coated paper seems an odd choice here, and the dull patina does these artists no favors. Nevertheless, the paper choice may well be responsible for its reasonable price: at under forty US dollars, this book is surprisingly affordable. And nothing is more sustainable than that.

Comments [3]

Forget tautology — the emptiness means a lot . . .
Cutters/Cork an exhibition of 52 international collage artists on view HERE from 5 February - 12 March 2011. Listen to James Gallagher interview HERE.
Thank you Jessica
Carl W. Smith

Printing… how do you nicely tell your friendly/capable printer you DON'T want an aqueous coating on the really lush paper you've specified? Even if they tell you they will put said coating on everything they do or refuse your business? At least the printers still left standing after this whole "recession" thing...

Hate going to the press check and seeing this "coating" like a dirty film, over this gorgeous paper. And it loses its smell, too. That beautiful ink smell.

Or maybe thats the new order…

Aqueous on everything. House gloss sheet, please. And no press check. Thank you.

joe moran

Hi Jessica,
I linked to this page via a facebook post from another collage artist (Randel Plowman.) The Cutting Edge book is a must-have for me--I am also a collage artist (or should I say an artist currently working primarily in collage?) The work of Angelica Paez, Javier Rodriguez and RodrigBoy just blew me away! I can't wait to investigate work by other artists in the book, as well as get to work in my studio.

I thought you might like to see my post on my own blog, Collagitation, regarding visiting OBlog. My artwork is posted throughout the blog, especially during 2010. Here's the link:

Thanks for this post!

PS I have a graphic arts background and I enjoyed cruising through the rest of Design Observer too!
Diane Keane

Jobs | May 28