“Art is Love is God.” – Wallace Berman, visual/assemblage artist 1926-1976
A recent trip to the newly expanded and renovated Virginia museum of Fine Arts introduced me to Wallace Berman. Inside a stark gallery hall hung huge pieces of assemblage art. I was familiar with collage, the technique of using glue to attach scraps of paper, ribbons, and other objects to a canvas to create a work of art. I’d dabbled in collage in high school and have always found it intriguing. The term “assemblage” art centered around the same concept but used large pieces of discarded metal, wood and other items.
The gallery featured large pieces from Wallace Berman, a West Coast beat artist who passed away in 1976. The above quote caught my attention and I wanted to learn more about this artist and the concept of assemblage.
Assemblage art is based on creating three-dimensional art from found objects. As a connoisseur of all things found, the idea that art could be based solely upon remnants and toss aways was novel. As I read more about assemblage art and the artists who created it, I found within this community of the 1950s when consumerism and materialism were at an apex, an appreciation for re-purposing objects.
And what a way to repurpose. Creating art doesn’t always require buying something. Artists routinely paint over old canvases for re-use. My friend who creates mosaics uses found objects in her pieces giving them a sense of history, purpose and memory.
Understanding assemblage art has encouraged me to thing about my own tangible environment and how I can create something new from something old. In this new day of frugality and mindful living, our world holds all manner of repurposeful items.
The concept of assembling something new from the old is meta-physical as well. In a world where so much seems to be falling to pieces, it may be a wise idea to start creating from the bits, picking up the pieces, choosing to rearrange them in a more pleasing pattern. As we re-purpose and re-create our world, we discover new ways to think about ourselves, our work and our direction in life.
There is no doubt Art