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The American Heritage Dictionary defines collage as “an artistic composition of materials and objects pasted over a surface, often with unifying lines and color.” The origin of the word is French: coller, to glue. Anything that is glued, pasted or adhered onto something else might be broadly interpreted as collage. Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse launched collage into the mainstream of art in Paris in the twentieth century and popularized the term. Much early experimentation in collage took place in France, thus the collage vocabulary has a distinctly French accent. (See “Collage Terms.”)

Collage probably existed before the invention of paper, certainly long before the technique was thought of as artistic. Many people still view collage as a craft rather than an art, but you’ll soon see that the fine art of collage can be as formal, as challenging, and as expressive as painting.

Most collage is based on ordinary materials, such as magazines, newspapers, photos, wallpaper or fabric, used creatively. Collage has almost universal appeal to artists who constantly search for other means to add more excitement to their work and for different ways of being creative. Collage, more than any art medium, offers myriad opportunities for invention and innovation. The versatility and flexibility of collage offer infinite possibilities for the arrangement of elements, usual juxtapositions and transformation of images and meaning. The possibility of change always exists. You can add something and remove or cover up something else. Almost anything that can be readily manipulated can contribute to the visual and tactile sensuality of the collage surface. No other medium will give you such a variety of exciting alternatives.

Excerpt taken with permission  from: Creative Collage Techniques by Nita Leland and Virginia Lee Williams




AFFICHES LACERÉS (a-fish’ lah-ser-ay’) Found paper collage.

ASSEMBLAGE (ah-sem-blah j’) Combination of three-dimensional objects glued to a surface.

BRICOLAGE (bree-col-ah j’) Combining odds and ends in collage.

BRÚLAGE (brew-lah j’) Burning of dampened collage materials.

COLLAGE (ko-lah j’) Pasting or gluing papers or objects onto a surface.

DÉCALCOMANIE (day’-kal-ko-‘-mahn-ee) Placing wet paint between two surfaces and pulling apart.

DÉCHIRAGE (day-shur-ah j’) Distressed paper collage.

DÉCOLLAGE (day-ko-lah j’) Removing, ungluing or otherwise subtracting material from the layers of a collage.

DÉCOUPAGE (day-koop-ah j’) Cut paper collage.

FEMMAGE (fahm-ah j’) Collage art and traditional craft done by women, frequently fabric-oriented.

FROISSAGE (fwahs-ajh’) Crumpling or creasing of collage materials.

FROTTAGE (frot-ah j’) Rubbing a design onto collage materials from a textured surface.

FUMAGE (foom-ah j’) Exposing dampened collage materials or surface to candle smoke.

LAYERING (lay’-r-ing) Building and removing layers of collage materials; a philosophy of connecting spiritual energies with art.

MIXED MEDIA COLLAGE Any combination of media with collage.

PAPIERS COLLÉS (pah-pee-ay’ ko-lay’) Pasted papers.

PHOTOMONTAGE (fo-to-mahn-tah j’) Collage of glued photographs or cut-out photos.


Suggested Reading:


Creative Collage Techniques by Nita Leland and Virginia Lee Williams (North Light Books)


Watermedia Techniques for Releasing the Creative Spirit, Marilyn Hughey Phillis (Watson Guptil)

Collage Techniques, A Guide for Artists & Illustrators, Gerald Brommer (Watson Guptil)

Collage Sourcebook – Exploring the Art & Techniques of Collage, Atkinson, Harrison & Grasdal (Quarry Books)

Celebrate Your Creative Self, Mary Todd Beam (North Light Books)




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Last modified: April, 2011