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Thoughts on Archivability and Collage

August 9, 2010

“Distilled” – Collage with Weathered Papers, Tissue Paper,
and Vellum
8 x 8″ on 14 x 11″ 100 lb. Drawing Paper

In a recent comment, one of my readers PatQ asked if I was worried about my collage papers — specifically newsprint — not being archival. This was my response to Pat:

In answer to your question about the newsprint, it’s plain newsprint that I’ve either bought in pads or sheets. I’ve even used the sheets that were left over from moving last year. The thing is, all my collages are made up of all manner of papers, so I don’t worry about archivability. It’s my hope that the collages will last longer than the original papers would have without all the acrylic gels and mediums that have now been applied. They aren’t going to disintegrate with all the adhesives. And another thought for me is that a certain patina of age would only add to their appeal.

I know there are all degrees of opinion about collage and the materials used. If you wanted to be a purist, you could create all of your own papers using only acid free ones, coloring them with the best paints and inks. It’s a lovely idea, but I haven’t pursued it . . . yet.

Since then I’ve been thinking more about my collages and the materials I use. For me, the act of creating them, the concepts behind them, and the enjoyment they bring to the viewer are all more important to me than how long they last. I think we can relax about this issue and just have fun with collage, as the nature of the medium is that it’s made up of all kinds of different papers, fabrics, and other materials.

Therefore, I think the bottom line for me is that since my artworks are probably never going to be of concern to a museum conservator, and because I feel confident they will last for at least a couple of generations and perhaps longer, they will bring pleasure to their owners for some time to come. So enjoy the process and above all, have fun creating!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2010 11:32 am

    A very interesting discussion. I am in your camp. For me the important part is in the creation…rather than in the concern about the ultimate life span. And for me, the aging and patina that comes along with the possible decay over time is always preferred!!

  2. August 10, 2010 1:03 pm

    Absolutely agree, Seth. After all, we are always looking for aged materials, aging them ourselves, or making them “look old.” I can’t think of anything wrong with the patina of time.

  3. August 11, 2010 8:01 pm

    on archival collages. I teach a class called Pollage, painting and collage,
    when we finish, we coat the canvas with gel medium. But more importantly
    than that, the nature of collage is to collect and work on it without worrying
    about its lasting 100 years. If I am not mistaken there are some by Picasso
    in MOMA that still look great! who cares, collage away, it is the process
    of making the collage that holds its importance to me. Go in Bliss collage
    away patricia

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