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Some Assembly Required: Collage and Assemblage Opens at CRMA

October 02, 2013
Grant Wood, Lilies of the Alley, 1925, Earthenware flower pot and found objects, gift of Harriet Y. and John B. Turner II, 72.12.38.
In the 19th century, before the emergence of the term collage, the gluing together bits of paper—tickets, photographs, printed texts—was largely a craft, a technique used for scrapbooks and other domestic memorabilia. In the early 20th century, however, European artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso started to incorporate bits of paper into their paintings, elevating the activity of collage into a fine art. Collage was born. Assemblage, the three-dimensional equivalent of collage, was not far behind.

A new exhibition at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA), entitled Some Assembly Required: Collage and Assemblage, will take a look at the breadth and depth of collage and assemblage, especially in the hands of American artists. The exhibition opens October 19, 2013 and runs through January 26, 2014.

Both collage and assemblage art began as a radical new way of art-making, turning its back on more traditional practices of painting and sculpting.  Collages and assemblages evoke a delight in everyday things and a somewhat subversive attitude toward the “established” art world.  The use of non-art materials, or even junk from the everyday world, often evokes a rawness, and occasionally poetic, qualities. 

In addition to Iowa’s famous artistic son, Grant Wood, this exhibition also features the work of many Iowan artists: Chuck Barth, John Beckelman, Velga Easker, Robert Kocher, Mauricio Lasansky, Richard D. Pinney, John Schwartzkopf, Bill Stamats, David Van Allen, Stan Wiederspan, and Mary Zeran. These and other artists from around the country have created collages and assemblages inspired by a range of topics from beauty to warfare, and feature familiar popular culture icons as diverse as Aunt Jemima and Thor.

Some of the works on view date back to the 1920s, near the origin of the technique, as seen in pieces such as Grant Wood’s Lilies of the Alley.  Others demonstrate the long-lasting impact of these early experiments on multiple generations of artists.  In each artist’s hands, however, collage and assemblage takes on a different form, reflecting each artist’s unique vision.

An opening reception will occur on Friday, October 18, in conjunction with the opening of Bertha Jaques: Eye on America. CRMA members are invited to exclusive early access beginning at 4:30 p.m. and the public is welcome from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

To correspond with Iowa’s Creative Corridor’s Creative Week, the CRMA is hosting a special event, “Some Assembly Required: Family Fun Night” from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 24, 2013. The public is invited to come celebrate the Museum’s newest exhibition, and check out the current construction project – the Museum’s biggest assemblage! Visitors of all ages will be able to tour the galleries and create their own assemblages and collages – such as a candy wrapper collages, see-through collages, and found-object sculptures inspired by Lilies of the Alley. Family Fun Night admission and activities are free.

This exhibition has been made possible in part by the Richard D. Pinney Exhibition Fund and a Program Fund Grant from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.