Mark Strand collages

(About art rather than language.)

Noted in several places, an exhibition of collages by poet Mark Strand. From the New Yorker of 9/24, “Mark Strand’s Playful Collages” by Rachel Arons:

Before Mark Strand became one of the great contemporary American poets, he trained as a painter. At Yale in the nineteen-fifties, he studied under the color theorist Josef Albers, and throughout his life he has continued making paintings, prints, and collages. In recent years, Strand, a former Poet Laureate of the United States and professor of literature, most recently at Columbia, has moved away from writing altogether to focus on art. A collection of his collages, made in Madrid and New York, is currently on display at the Lori Bookstein gallery, in Chelsea.

Two exemplars:



Arons interviews Strand:

The collage pieces currently on display at Lori Bookstein are made not from found materials but from paper you made and colored yourself, at the Dieu Donné artists’ space here in New York. Can you explain a little about the paper-making process—what draws you to it and how you incorporate it into your collages?

Well, making paper is fun. Mixing pigment with pulp and adding the blend to the pulp that will eventually become a sheet of paper is wonderfully absorbing. With something called “formation aid” I use my hands to create the various swirls, swoops, drops, and dribbles that bind with the basic sheet of pulp. That basic sheet can be thick or thin, opaque or transparent, black or white or any color I wish. This is the first stage in the making of my collages. I make papers that I believe I can use or that I envision using.

And in the 10/10/13  New York Review of Books, “The Collages of Mark Strand” by Francine Prose:

Just when we think that we have seen enough works on paper to have some sense of the possibilities and the limits of what paper can do, the poet Mark Strand’s beautiful collages—made in Madrid, where he lives—make us realize how profoundly we’ve underestimated the remarkable feats of magic that can be performed by some wood pulp, or rags, water, a few chemicals—and the hand and eye of an artist.

Made from pieces of handmade paper, sometimes painted, Strand’s work is very different from that of Picasso, Matisse, and Kurt Schwitters, whose papiers collés, cut-outs, and collages often seem intended to make us aware of the origins and previous functions of their component parts, cut from sheets of wallpaper, colored paper, and newsprint, or, in the case of Schwitters, sometimes assembled from detritus found in the street. Who would have dreamed that torn scraps could speak to one another, exchanging playful, private jokes? Who could have predicted that fragments of paper could appear to glide and migrate across the page, to attract and repel one another, even when we know (or think we know) that they are firmly fixed in place? Who knew that abstract paper shapes would have so much to tell us about the fortuitous cooperation of chance, accident, intention, and aesthetics, about the complex partnership between the artist and the paper itself? Who would have imagined that a colored sliver of paper could deepen and enrich the color of its neighbors, or how surprised a color could seem to find itself beside a very different hue, or how obligingly these colors could change in response to their environment, like a newly identified species of ragged, two-dimensional chameleons?

Pretty much as far away from my collages as could be. But very satisfying to look at.

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