Space of Collage

A while back I mentioned Briony Fer’s book on abstraction and the special place she gives to collage at the origins of the practice. I picked it up again to refresh my memory and one of the points has to do with a long standing debate about space, or the illusion of space, in a collage. In standard modernist history it’s supposed to affirm the surface, breaking with the fictive unity of oil paint, and the characteristic space of collage is assumed to be the very thin space of one layer of paper on top of another. For Judd, apparently, collage is not very spatial, and neither are the paintings of Malevich, which look like sheets of superimposed paper. That description could apply to the work of many avant-gardists in Russia a hundred years ago. 

Nadezhda Udaltsova, Untitled 1916

Liubov Popova, Painterly Architectonics 1918

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