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Contemporary Collage Artists

10 Collage Artists That Inspire My Artwork

Collage artists use the materials available to create art. When I first started as an artist, I didn’t have the money to buy “proper” supplies like fancy brushes or even canvas. By necessity and then choice, the paper I used to create collage artwork came from abandoned spaces: old farm houses, burned down buildings, abandoned gas stations, and the like. I collect materials from places that have personality and create something more than a relic, something highlighting the life of a particular found object, but also transcending the mundane and everyday aspect.

Over my years as an artist, creator and storyteller, the ways in which other collage artists have elevated the object, reused and repurposed it, has inspired and guided me in my own collage artwork. Here is a fun round-up of my ten favorite collage artists. Some are rather famous and some you might need to look up.

  1. Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)

    - Schwitters is a collage artist famous for his Merz Pictures, who went on to become extremely instrumental in the Dada movement. Early on in my life, Schwitters’ art in particular changed the entire way I thought about creating. Showing Kurt Schwitters influence, shown below is a detail from my Rescued Wood Construction Series, Woodpecker.
    Dolan Geiman Woodpecker Found Object Assemblage
  2. Hannah Hoch (1889-1978)

    - Hoch was a German Dada collage artist and one of the inventors of the artistic technique photomontage, the use of photos in collage. You might recognize photo elements in some of my collage artwork. Showing Hannah Hoch influence, shown below is a detail from my earlier work, Driftwood Days.Dolan Geiman artwork inspired by Hannah Hoch
  3. Dieter Roth (1930 - 1998)

    - Dieter Roth was a Swiss collage artist known for making artwork with found materials, including rotting food. He helped me to understand the beauty in a discarded cigarette butt (especially his dirt and chocolate pieces).Showing some Dieter Roth influence, shown below is a detail from a custom found object lab sculpture.Dolan Geiman Black Lab Found Object Sculpture detail
  4. Romare Howard Bearden (1911-1988)

    - Bearden was an American collage artist working during and creating works about the civil rights movement. He used glossy magazine clippings in his collage art, which were a fairly new medium. Showing Romare Howard Bearden influence, shown below is a detail from my earlier work, Goodbye, So Long, Oh My!
    Dolan Geiman paper collage Goodbye, So Long, Oh My
  5. Louise Nevelson (1899-1988)

    - Nevelson tried something completely new and completely brilliant with her collage artwork. She was the first collage artist to assemble (a huge amount of) stuff and paint it all monochromatic (usually black). This technique was a genius way to get the eye to see all that beautiful texture. Showing Louise Nevelson influence, shown below is a detail from the custom mixed media US flag sculpture constructed from the Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning.
    Dolan Geiman Commissoin for Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning
  6. Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

    - Often referred to as a “neo-Dadist,” Rauschenburg collected “discarded objects” on the streets of New York city and incorporated them into his collage artwork. His artwork was part collage, part painting, part sculpture and completely challenging to all the ways of thinking about art. Showing Robert Rauschenberg influence, shown below is a detail from my 3D Silver Swan sculpture.
    Dolan Geiman Silver Swan Found Object Art Sculpture
  7. Cy Twombley (1928-2011)

    - Cy Twombley is responsible for one of the first pieces of artwork that made me weep for joy. He’s probably best known as a painter, a sculptor, a calligrapher or perhaps, best of all, a provocateur. He’s known for quoting, in his own scrawled handwriting, famous poets and figures of classical mythology in his artwork. In the 70’s, Twombley used color, written words and collage to evoke landscapes. You might recognize his influence in artworks like Elephant Everything and the study for Her Favorite Tune below.

  8. Mimmo Rotella (1918-2006)

    - Mimmo Rotella was an Italian collage artist who used torn advertising posters to create artwork which he called “double decollages.” The technique “decollage” means to take something away from an artistic object (in this case, advertising posters). He tore and layered them to create his collage artwork, elevating the common. Showing Kurt Schwitters influence, shown below is a detail from my Strauss's Waltz abstract stacker papers collage.
    Dolan Geiman artwork inspired by Kurt Schwitters
  9. William Christianberry (1936-2016)

    - Though better known as a photographer and sculptor, Christianberry focused much of his artwork on abandoned and decaying structures in his home state of Alabama. He photographed these structures and reproduced many as detailed sculptures set in dirt from the actual site, incorporating found objects from the place. As an artist from the South with a similar fascination for history-rich places being reclaimed by nature, Christianberry’s work resonates as shown below in Crow Rain.
    Dolan Geiman Original Mixed Media - Crow Rain
  10. Christo (1935–2020) and Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009)

    - Christo and Jeanne-Claude were an artistic duo of “environmental sculptors” known for their large-scale installations including landmarks and landscapes wrapped in fabric. To prepare for these massive, temporary installations, the duo created a huge number of drawings, scale models and collages, selling them to finance the project.  Showing Christo's influence, shown below is a wrapped antler detail from my Black Forest Stag faux taxidermy sculpture.
    Dolan Geiman wrapped antlers, Black Forest Stag