March 17, 2010

Cut and Paste

Currently at the Met, Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage

"Sixty years before the embrace of collage techniques by avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century, aristocratic Victorian women were already experimenting with photocollage. The compositions they made with photographs and watercolors are whimsical and fantastical, combining human heads and animal bodies, placing people into imaginary landscapes, and morphing faces into common household objects. Such images, often made for albums, reveal the educated minds as well as the accomplished hands of their makers. With sharp wit and dramatic shifts of scale akin to those Alice experienced in Wonderland, these images stand the rather serious conventions of early photography on their heads."

These intricate montages swirl with surrealist imagery: swans with human heads, figures of outlandish proportions, dour kings and queens on cards.

The effect is one of delight and surprise- the figures seem surprisingly approachable and life-like, as if they were about to speak any moment. "Say, did you ever...."

The whimsy is something we all expect from Victorian images, but the sense of humor is a decidedly new element.

Pictures and Quoted Description from the Met website

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