Cut and Paste

The use of collage is an essential method throughout the twentieth century till now, considering modern era is overwhelmed by the appearance of mass production. Although people began to advocate and further make the use of collage popular in twentieth century, its appearance can be traced back to tenth century in Japan, which such technique was already highly developed, and it’s only been re-emerged as a legitimate form of artistic expression with the advent of avant-garde movement later on (Wolfram, 1975). For the modern era, “Collage is the single most revolutionary formal innovation in artistic representation to occur in our century.” (Ulmer, 1985)

During November 2015, Peter Kennard’s works were exhibited at the Imperial War Museum, which I’ve visited to witness the great amount of works created by the technique of photomontages from this wellknown unofficial war artist.


Values (photograph taken in 1974)


War Head (photo taken 1983)

From what I saw, the two works above created via photomontage appear to be the strongest war-themed pieces by Peter Kennard. These thought-provoking montages strongly show the poor condition people were living under war times, how they had become the victims of war. Values (1974) shows a person eating a few coins from an incomplete plate, suggesting the issue of mulnutrition as people were lack of diet and lived an unhealthy life. On the other hand, War Head (1983) has a stronger collage feeling, which Earth’s been used as the head of the subject, with missiles sticking out, with a body that represents starvation, overall provokes the serious starvation people were suffering.

“The single click of a camera shutter cannot picture this connection, cannot equate one with the other. But in a photomontage two clicks can be brought together to create a third meaning.” (Kennard, 1990), and the idea of combining different imageries, forming a collage of work, is not rejecting the original purpose of the work, yet creating something that inherrits the original intention, and make it either stronger or under the artists’ messages to the society.


Banash, David. Collage Culture: Readymades, Meaning, And The Age Of Consumption (Postmodern Studies). 1st ed. Brill Academic Publishers, 2013. Print.

Kennard, Peter. Values. London: Imperial War Museum, 1974. Print.

Kennard, Peter. War Head. London: Imperial War Museum, 1983. Print.

Kennard, Peter. “Www.Peterkennard.Com”. N.p., 2001. Web. 21 Jan. 2017.

Kerley, Paul. “Peter Kennard: A Very Unofficial War Artist”. BBC News Magazine 2017. Web. 21 Jan. 2017.

Wolfram, Eddie. History Of Collage. 1st ed. New York: Macmillan, 1975. Print.

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