Objective vs. Nonobjective Collage

Fields by collage artist Megan Coyle
Megan Coyle. Fields.

Objective art is artwork that depicts easily recognizable subject matter. It is also known as representational or figurative art. For example, a collage of a dog or zoo animal (like Coyle’s animal collages) are objective works of art because they illustrate something we can recognize.

Nonobjective, or abstract art, is just about the complete opposite of objective art. Nonobjective artwork doesn’t have identifiable forms or recognizable subject matter. Instead of depicting familiar objects, people, or animals, nonobjective artwork deals with the basic elements of art. This means focusing on things like line, shape, color, texture, or space, as opposed to trying to create a realistic picture of a familiar subject.

What’s great about nonobjective artwork is that it allows you to tap into creative ways of expressing yourself by manipulating the media you are working in. Instead of being confined to the rules of creating realistic renderings of subjects, you can experiment and embrace the media.

Collages are works of art made from assembling different fragments to create a new, original work of art. Collages often incorporate mixed media like paint, paper, graphite, and can even include found objects. Paper collage primarily focuses on using different types of paper, such as found papers like paper bags or altered papers that have been painted or torn. Collage is a great way to create abstract art since you can easily focus on a variety of textures. A popular practice for artists is to make abstract collages with found papers.

Megan Coyle uses magazine strips to construct each of her paper collages. Take a look at Coyle’s abstract artwork (click on one of the thumbnails to view a larger image):

You can see that each collage doesn’t depict something you can easily recognize. There is also more of an emphasis on color and the way the magazine strips are torn/cut and arranged on the page, than creating a realistic image.

Now compare her abstract work to her representational artwork:

Did you notice any similarities or differences between these two sets of collages? What did you notice about her abstract work? Can you see hints of her abstract collage technique in her representational work?

When it comes to working on your own artwork, pay attention to the way you arrange the pieces of paper on the page. Try arranging and rearranging pieces of color next to one another, until you find a color combination that looks best to you. Then go ahead and glue everything down.

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