In terms of art, assemblage is regarded as a process. Using found objects, artists produce three-dimensional compositions to create original art. Pablo Picasso is credited with introducing Assemblage to the art world. He, of course, was revered for his Cubist constructions among other art works. The term assemblage, however, wasn’t used until the 1950s. The artist Jean Dubuffet created his series of collage art called Assemblages d’Empreints, a work featuring butterfly wings. The term Assemblage stuck and other artist began to use it to describe their artistic process too.
While the term is associated with the mid-twentieth century, many artists along with Picasso favored this process for creating art. Marcel Duchamp, Vladimir Tatlin, and Louise Nevelson also practiced the Assemblage process for creating art. Works of Assemblage might feature natural or man-made objects in their compositions. It’s important to note, because the two are frequently confused, that assemblage is definitely dimensional in nature; collage, on the other hand, is a two-dimensional work that features pasted elements. Even so, it’s common for the two terms to be used interchangeably. Typically, Assemblage art features a sculpted appearance, but this is not always the case.
Artists who create Assemblage works can use any found objects they like. Stone, wood, shell, fabric, metal, or any other items are fair game for the Assemblage artist. When associated with the Cubists, for example, Assemblage art is often concerned with the notion of shape as well as the found objects’ composition. The arrangement of these items is also particular to the artist and, indeed, unique to the composition. Works of Assemblage tend to be very eclectic and highly original.
Some of the best known examples of Assemblage art include works like Picasso’s Still-Life (1914) which showcases upholstery fringe and carved pieces of wood. This work can be viewed in person at London’s Tate Museum. Additionally, Picasso’s Glass of Absinthe made in the same year features an actual spoon in its composition; as an added element, the work is free-standing. The artist Richard Stankiewicz employed junk or scrap items to create Assemblage works. Tom Wesselmann was known for using bright and bold colored synthetic items in his creations.
The Assemblage process afforded artists with a new mode of creating art. Some artists found it ideal for creating their vision of anti-art while others found it useful for creating environmental art works. As a highly flexible art form, Assemblage is still employed today. Many renowned works of Assemblage are housed in some of the most revered modern art museums of the world.