The rip offs (09-19)

I have carried on making collages out of each edition of the Sunday Times Magazine and I have read about the historical background of the collage.

Picasso who is credited with the invention of collage was influenced by George Bract who had training in painting and decorating techniques to produce trompe l’oeil wood grain and marble effects with paint.

According to the Tate website the preservation of collages is an absolute nightmare because they are not made out of achievable materials. This is one reason that Picasso stopped making collages, because it is of no use to make an artwork for it to disintegrate within a short period of time.

This is not as much of a problem these days as the collage can continue to exist as a digital photograph long after the original artwork has degraded and provided that you restrain yourself to flat 2 dimensional materials the 2 dimensional digital prints are almost indistinguishable from the original collage and have the benefit of a longer lifespan.

Perhaps the greatest exponent of collage in the 20th Century was Max Ernst, although many of his collage works are not true collages but montages in the Dada tradition. A montage or photo montage is a collage that uses figurative images or parts of figurative images to compose the final image.

The most famous montage of the twentieth century is Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? by Richard Hamilton. The original is small, but it has to be as the images used in the process are culled from a magasine in a similar way that in my own process the source material is culled  from magazines. Matisses collages are so large because his components are manufactured on a large scale by his assistants.

So far I have not resorted to the use of figurative image preferring to experiment with colours, somewhat similar to the approach used by Joseph Albers in his investigations into colours, and the effect that a coloured ground has on the arrangement of colours ripped from the Sunday Times colour supplement and review sections.

There are only three rules to the process, all the collage pieces must be culled from the current edition of the Sunday Times magazine and the ground must be a sheet of A5 card either white of coloured, the use of a black sharpie is optional as the artist sees fit.

The black outline flattens the images, preventing the colours inducing recession and instead any recession is governed by the overlapping of the contoured shapes.

Because I am avoiding the figurative until I get used to the colours the shapes torn from the magazines have an aspect of the absence of the figures that the collage pieces avoid. That influences the shape of the collage pieces. This is not immediately apparent from the finished pieces unless you are aware of the context of the shapes.

While it feels like a serious experiment there is a massive amount of play involved the collage develops by the addition of further pieces that the existing collage seems to demand and the process stops when the collage is pleasing to my eye. Looking back at them I can understand why I stopped but sometimes I think is it possible to push this one or that one a bit further, so far I have resisted going back into them but that day could come, especially as a printable archive is stored in my computer and the perishable original could serve as the ground for a new work.

At present each original remains as a record of a couple of pleasant hours spent on a Sunday evening and I am not sure as well if I want to dilute that.

I am not a big fan of shoe horning quotes into my writing, but Picasso once said, There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality. I start with the Sunday Times Magazine, remove all traces of reality and end up with abstract art.

Figure 1 ST9, collage on A5 card

Figure 2 ST10, collage on A5 card

Figure 3 ST11, collage on A5 card

Figure 4 ST12, collage on A5 card

Figure 5 ST13, collage on A5 card

Figure 6 ST14, collage on A5 card

Figure 7 ST15, collage on A5 card

Figure 8 ST16, collage on A5 card

Figure 9 ST17, collage on A5 card

Figure 10 ST18, collage on A5 card

Figure 11 ST19, collage on A5 card


Dear Cleo 18 11 25

Dearest Cleo

It was great to see you this morning congratulations again on your 100% in maths but more especially on your pen licence I hope the pen we bought works well for you and don’t forget it was only a penny more than £11.99.

I have been carrying on with the collages as I said I would, but I have stopped using the scissors, preferring instead to rip the papers because it is quicker and more random shapes arise.

Generally the rips are odd shaped because I am avoiding anything figurative at the moment. I have avoided adding meaningful titles because looking at them I can see things that are not there and the people who have seen them so far have recorded seeing different things. It is a sort of interaction between the viewer and the work that I can’t influence.

I am reading an excellent book at the minute called The Principles of Art that argues in degrees of art, all art contains an element of craft, representative art  is representative first and art second and non representative art is magical. Here are the next four collages in the Rip off series;

Figure 1 ST number 05 collage on A5 card

Figure 2 ST number 06 collage on A5 card

Figure 3 ST number 07 collage on A5 card

Figure 4 ST number 08 collage on A5 card

I hope you had a good time in Ikea this afternoon and you found what you were looking for, for your bedroom.

My love as always

Mickos xx


Collingwood, R.G. (1958) The Principles of Art. London: Oxford University Press.

Dear Cleo 18 11 06


Dearest Cleo

It has been a long week and it is only Tuesday, how are you finding it? I forgot to ask if you enjoyed your firework party but I am sure you did. I didn’t have to go to any galleries to do this one as I went to the exhibition several years ago and have a well thumbed copy of the catalogue and I have done a lot of reading around the subject.

Figure 1 Icarous by Henri Matisse

You may remember this one from our visit to Pizza Express, I don’t know if it is still there because I stopped going when they took Quattro Formaggi off the menu.

The best internet site I found for a description of the Cut Outs was the MoMA one which describes Matisse’s process in some detail, the link is in the Bibliography below.

The challenge was to make a cut out, I made several and I have been making them for a couple of weeks now. I don’t have any studio assistants to paint the paper for me to cut out, so I decided to make one a week from the Sunday Times Magazines from solid blocks of colour I could rescue from the week’s issue. I intend to continue with this so don’t be too surprised to get an update in the future.

Figure 2 ST Number 01 Collage on A5 card

This one reminds me of a Cubist chair, let’s not forget after all that it was Picasso who invented collage.

Figure 3 ST Number 02 Collage on A5 card.

With this one I was concerned with what was in front of what and how the colours and tones indicated recession and depth.

Figure 4 ST Number 03 Collage and Sharpie on A5 card.

As you know I don’t watch TV, but the TV listings in the magazine look like subtle tones if you squint a bit or look from far away enough.

Figure 5 ST Number 04 Collage and Sharpie on A5 card.

Still fascinated by the tones of the TV listings I found it interesting how the colours float behind and within and in front of the tones and how the minds eye conjures up 3 dimensions from a flat surface.

I had no preconceived ideas of which way was up, that they all became portrait format is the eventual way that the collages suggested when they were finished. There may be a deep unconscious reason for this, no doubt a critic of the future more schooled in Freudian theories that I will be able to explain this to everybody.

Well dear, that is the first four weeks over, but I can feel this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, look for the sign of the cut paper and we will see where this takes itself.

Just as an aside I noticed something else, If you are going to have a blockbuster exhibition or write a book about art and are stuck for a title, start with a colon and put some words either side of it, its not about art unless it has a colon.

My love as always


Mickos xx

Gallery visits

Tate Modern.  Matisse: The cut outs

Tate Liverpool.  Works to know by heart: Matisse in Focus


Buchberg,  K. (2014) Matisse: The Cut Outs. London: Tate Publishing

Elderfield, J. (1984) The Drawings of Henri Matisse.  London: Arts Council

Flam, J.D.  (1978) Matisse on Art. New York : E.P. Dutton

Essers, V. (1987) Henri Matisse: Master of colour. Koln: Tachen

Neret, G.( 1996) Henri Matisse: Cut outs. Koln: Tachen

Internet Research

Matisse, H. (1908) Notes from a painter. At:  (Accessed on 14/10/18)

MoMA (s.d.) The Cut outs At: h  (Accessed on 14/10/18)

Tate Modern (2014) Henri Matisse: the Cut outs. At: (Accessed on 14/10/18)

Tate Liverpool (s.d.) Works to know by heart: Matisse in Focus. At: (Accessed on 14/10/18)