There's a unique exhibition going on at MoMA in New York City featuring the work of assemblage artist Robert Rauchenberg. Because Charlestonians enjoy super cheap direct flights to NYC in the summer, it seems like everybody we know is headed to see this rare collection.
But assemblage art...what the heck?
Pablo Picasso's 3D cubist works from 1912 are widely considered the start of the form. Let's have a look at Still Life 1914:
Around the same time other dada (experimental) artists used assemblage to explore the subconscious and dreams - remember, this is about the time Freud's writings became popular. During this time we also start to see 3D assemblage art that was meant to be surprising or unsettling. It was also meant to disrupt the traditional art gallery structure which artists felt had become too commercialized.
Later artists, such as South Carolina native Jasper Johns, continued to develop the medium. This is Target with Four Faces:
Today the term assemblage is used almost interchangeably with "found object" or "mixed media" art. (Drawing the line is up to the artist.)
Today's assemblage artists aren't necessarily out to disrupt the gallery system or the idea of what constitutes art in the way of 1920s artists. Instead, this form of art depends on creating a cohesive work of art out of bits and pieces of other things. There can be a clear meaning or the meaning can be subjective or reflective of the subconscious. When you look at a piece of assemblage art, pay attention to movement, texture, contrast and other subtleties that are just as important to the work as form. You'll have even more fun if you can look at a piece and interpret it in the way you would a strange dream - symbolically.
Assemblage artists are fairly rare in the south, especially if the artist isn't identifying with the Outsider genre. (If not rare, we can at least say with confidence they are soundly outnumbered by fine artists.)
However, you can see assemblage art by local artist Robin Howard in our gallery. Robin's art is part of the South Carolina State Museum's traveling exhibition this year, and her Charleston Box #31 recently won an Honorable Mention at the Palmetto Hands competition.
Robin is a scientist and archaeologist by training, and full-time freelance writer and artist working here in Charleston. Her love of the natural environment is obvious in her pieces, especially her Charleston Box series. Recently we've seen some color creep into her work, as well as the literary influences and dream / subconscious inspirations inherent to traditional assemblage:
"Force & Matter" 7" x 6" x 2" $278
We have a few pieces from her Charleston Box series, and the pieces above from her series entitled The Reader Will Have Observed. Stop by this weekend and check them out They are signed and have a unique handmade metal id tag for future valuation. They're also well priced and and are sure to add interest to your personal collection. Plus, we've got the air conditioning cranked up so you can ponder in comfort.