Reading Notes: ‘The Manipulated Image & Montage’

Having already worked on my own montage picture during the workshop, reading this piece was a good insight into the history of how this technique of “anti-art” was created. These are some of the main points I found interesting:

Photomontage was made famous by the DADA artists from 1916 into the 1930’s, where it was defined essentially as the cutting and pasting of photographs.

It was seen as a form of creation that closed “the gap between art and life”, making art more approachable- less of a divine talent and more of an ironic approach by making it out of everyday materials and in everyday context.

* Montage is primarily a form of critical realism which brings important issues forward.

– Critical realists: see a piece of art work (film, painting, photograph, television programme) as a representation of reality, going in depth beyond physical appearances to relate the outer form of a work to a more culturally critical outlook.
e.g. Brecht plays where he consciously broke the charm of the audience-actor relations, bringing forward the awareness of the play being reality.

Montage was first recognised as a realist form of art by Bertold Brecht and Walter Benjamin.

* Whereas conventional media used photomontage to deceptively manipulate images, other approaches were taken by artists such as John Heartfield, whose photos were more simultaneously illusionist and revealing of their constructedness, while Dadaists took a more shock-effect approach of harmony-refusal in their montage-making.

* It is worth nothing that montage today is used for more than critical realism, but for simpler matters such as advertising and humorous effect, although in my opinion its original use still remains its most vital one.


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