Bold Assemblage: Mixed Media from the Collection

March 06, 2021 - May 30, 2021

The phrase “mixed media”, heard by many but often misunderstood, is not just an approach to making art of randomly assembling media and blending processes. Rather, we find artists who are experimenting creatively and pushing the limits of their mediums. As a result, mixed media works can vary widely, from dynamic sculptural pieces to subtle two-dimensional works. Around 1912, Pablo Picasso and his modern art contemporaries began to combine media for the first time in the form of collage. Picasso and other artists, with their new art style, encouraged young artists to experiment with media as well, even by incorporating everyday found objects in their work. As a result, art began to take on new forms never seen before, challenging audiences to expand their understanding of what art could be. It is also important to note that mixed media gives equal significance to all media used in an artwork. It is not painting with hints of printmaking, nor sculpture with a little bit of collage: it is mixed media. By emphasizing the role of each form of media used in a work, artists were bucking the academic mindset that pure painting and sculpture were the only true forms of art.

Because many types of media are used in these works, museums face challenges in cataloging them due to their hybrid nature. Bold Assemblage brings together for the first time these works that do not have a natural home in a museum’s collection, though they occupy an important place in the story of American art.