A French term associated with the visual arts, collage denotes a work of art that is comprised of multiple items assembled to create a collective whole. Though art historians have suggested that the art of collage has existed for hundreds of years, it became known as a formal artistic format during the twentieth century. Cubist artists like Picasso were responsible for bringing it to prominence during the era of Modern Art. Collage continues as an immensely popular format today.

Historians believe that collage as an art form may be traced back to China as early as 200 B.C. However, they also suggest it was not a popular form of art until the 10th century when Japanese poets and calligraphers began pairing artworks and written words using applications of glued paper. Some Gothic cathedrals constructed during the Medieval period reflect some collage works that employed gems, gold leaf panels, and religious icons, for example. Throughout various art periods, collage has been associated with painting, wood, and even found objects. Interestingly, it’s an art form enjoyed by children yet is also featured in some of the world’s most revered art museums.

Pasting has historically been an important aspect of the collage form. Artists pasted in items like newspaper clippings, photographs, or other artworks. There have been some legal issues regarding the use of copyrighted materials in collage works. Often such works are called derivative works and have their own copyrights. Some forms of collage, on the other hand, have been restricted. Because these art works are often subject to the laws of the nation in which they were created, there is some variation.

Many famous art works are celebrated examples of collage. One of the most famous is Picasso’s Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper (1913) which employed collage as well as pen and ink. Other important works include L’Oeil Cacodylate (1921) by Francis Picabia, The Hat Make the Man (1920) by Max Ernst, The Proposal (1942) by Kurt Schwitters, and The Old Moon with the New Moon in Her Arms (1964) by Tony Berlant. Though associated with crafts rather than the arts, decoupage is also a noted form of collage. Even so, various artists like Picasso and Henri Matisse included some decoupage in their works. Matisse’s Blue Nude II includes some decoupage and so is regarded as a work of collage. Collage is also associated with three-dimensional collage, digital collage, and mosaic.