Collage Castell


About Collage Castell

We can blame the 16th-century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari for the idea that artists are alone in their genius. He argued in what was the first art history book, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, that artists were gifted with "divine intelligence" which made them "like God Himself." To say that bit of flattery went to artists' heads is a bit of an understatement. Vasari's words cast the vocation of art as a lonely act, a distortion of the reality that artists of the time largely worked in workshops where teams of people produced great works under the guidance of a master. The myth is pernicious, however, and today we are expected to toil on our own in the studio and bear alone the burdens and challenges that come with an artist's life. In reality, most artists don't work alone: Artist communities, networks, partners are as integral to the creation of art as the materials we use. While we may work alone, the diffusion of art, the presentation of art to the community, is a complex collaboration with gallerists, art writers, museum directors, and others. Art is a human activity and humanity is nothing but one great collaboration.

That collage is uniquely suited for collaboration is not a new idea and is a topic frequently discussed in the pages of Kolaj Magazine. Collaboration seems to be in the DNA of the medium itself, often taking place with the silent partner of pre-printed media. The Dadaists, because of their love of chance, used collaboration to spark creativity. One never knows what the other person is going to do. One must be quick-witted and nimble, open to the possibilities, and able to go with the flow. Collaboration is not about making the perfect work of art. Perfection, rather, is in the exchange not the product.

At festivals in Catalonia, Spain, large groups of people come together to build human towers. Slowly and carefully people position themselves to form a base. Then a band plays the Toc de Castells and the rest of the people take their positions up the tower until the final person reaches the top. The crowd cheers and the castellers quickly disassemble, returning everyone safely to the ground. These athletic feats are noted for their skill and strength, but they celebrate our capacity as human beings to work together. People are amazing.

In the spirit of these thoughts, we invited collage artists to join in a Collage Castell. Enclosed with the Kolaj LIVE Online Program Book were four Bauhaus-inspired starters on which we invited artists to start a collage and then send to another artist to complete.