Collage (from the French word Collage – stamping) was introduced to the artistic practice by Braque and Picasso in 1912, when they had been involved with cubism. It was a totally new trend in the visual art at that time, it was so unusual that the whole generation of Italian futurists had been fascinated by it, as well as Dadaists, surrealists and many other artists. After falling in love with his discovery, Picasso as an improviser could not stop and started to put sand, pieces of newspaper, wallpaper, posters or fabric, business cards, bands, wires. So all the surrogate products could be used for the collage. Different materials that you meet in one surface create a surprising effect. Collage had been given new possibilities for esperimant with the material, with cut out object forms, putting in some actual subjects in the composition, but had nothing to do with realism. There comes a totally different experience in the collage, finding out unusual ability for reconstruction, for synthesis of cubism as Braque and Picasso understood it.
In 20s of the 20th century the Russian avant-garde artists had been working in collage technique. They had put a lot of forces to create a mass culture, longing to create affordable democratic languages. One of it became a new type of graphics – collage, that connected as simple elements as well as a complete images.
Arcimboldi art had been discovered by surrealists in the beginning of the 20th century. His painting art both modernistic and allegoric, but not falling totally in one of the given categories, had found now successors. His art appeared in the time when the nature started to reveal some of its secrets. Rudolph the Imperator in Prague had surrounded himself by such scientists as Kepler and artists as Arcimboldi. After stopping asking for help from the Devine will as in the Middle Centuries, and the nature had been studied scientifically, they found out even more unreal sphere. So in order to put in in life something fantastic, it is not needed to find something incredible. As writes Roland Bart: “Arcimboldi creates fantastic things from the most close, colloquial, everyday items”. Centuries had passed before Arcimboldi’s experiments were continued by the contemporary designers with high-class taste and intelligence. So was Arcimboldi the ancestor of the modern florists?
Floristic collage that I want to tell you about, of course do not claim for high definitions of its assignment. Collage belongs mostly to the craft and applied arts and it’s purpose is just to beautify our life and at least to try come close to nature. The founder and creator of such a trend is rightfully considered a german florist Friedhelm Raffel. He lives and works in Bavarian location Munsingen. During the long years of work he had published three illustrated books about floristic collage. Friedhelm made up several interesting techniques using the methods of decal, mono-typing, pargeting, wax in the collage, but the basis of his work of course is natural material, where the name comes from - floristic collage. There are used Dutch immortelle by “Hugo Woning”, autamn leaves, gathered in the park, bizarre roots, pressed flowers, stones and many others. Some of his techniques appeared accidently, as spray technique for example. Once he sprayed unconscious paints instead of water on the paper. As a real artist he could not notice such an interesting “discovery”, but created a new technique on its basis. The works made with this technique look unexpectedly alive and immediate.
During the long years Friedhelm worked out 5 techniques of creating a collage: mono-ty1ping, decal, clay, wax, “terra”, “spray”.
He has been teaching in Germany, France, Japan for more than 10 years. In 2003-2006 Friedhelm had visited Moscow, I got a chance to take his lessons.
Several words about techniques:
- “Monotyping”. The basis of this technique is a very used by artists – the print of paint is put from the glass to the paper. Then the plant materials are put on the painted surface. Everything looks quite easy, but it is so only at the first sight, sometimes it is needed for more than 10-15 prints in order to reach a desired harmony.
- “Decalcomania”. The technique is quit close to the first one, but instead of glass is used cardboard with a layer of paint. Depending on the surface of the cardboard – smooth or hydrophilic, different effects appeared to be.
- “Glue technique”. The paint is put on the layer of the wallpaper glue by pallet. After the covered surface has dried out, the plant material is added.
- “Wax”. The plant composition is built on the cartboard surface and then fixed by the thin layer of liquid paraffin. When it is cooled down, it makes a thin white-off coating, looking like frost mist.
- “Terra” – it is author’s name given by Raffel. Plants are covered by the layer of texturized plaster, and after that the layer of paint is put. As a result the plants in the collage look like stoned or stone-made.
- “Spray”. It is an accidently created technique we talked about earlier. Paint (gouache), mixed with water and put in the sprayer and then sprayed on the cardboard. Then the plant material is glued on.
In my works I use not all techniques, that I has learned in the Raffel’s school. But the value of the new knowledge is not in being able to repeat what you have learned in details, but using the received knowledge being able to create your own new things. I hope I have at least partially succeeded in that.