These collages are an attempt to expose the violence inherent in advertising by placing advertising material next to images and text of the imperial aggression which sustains our consumer culture. The Rocco style of European art (1720 – 1789) was chosen as a theme because this art movement shares significant similarities to the collages both narratively and aesthetically. Historically the period also tracks social, political, and economic realities now prevailing in the USA.
The term Rococo literally means “crazy misshapen shell work” and was coined by art critics of the time to disparage what they saw as the gaudy colors, shapes, loose composition, and overblown treatment of surfaces characterizing the style. In contrast to the earlier more sober minded Baroque sensibilities the Rococo was also seen as manifestly trite and self-indulgent. The collages in this series exhibit many of the same qualities of Rococo because Rococo communicates many of the same values found in our own culture. Rococo emphasized material wealth and status as well as a tacit indifference to contemporary social realities. The style, like the world of popular culture and advertising, is escapist and blind to the suffering of others.
Historical Context to Rococo Collage Series:
Out of the conspicuous consumption by the super-rich which characterized the historical period of Rococo came the French Revolution. A violent back lash toward France’s ruling elites whose greed and excess were financed by crushing exploitation and oppression of the mass of French people. The correlates with our own society are troubling.
The titles of the individual pieces are for the most part drawn from typical Rococo painting themes such as pictures of pilgrims, paintings of the Fete Gallant Garden parties, Ladies at their mirrors applying the requisite mountains of makeup. “On the Street” is a reference to the block parties in 18th Century Venice so popular with the well healed Grand Tour crowd so to with “Parade Day.” Some titles refer to more recent history such as “MK-Ulta.”
Method and Materials for Rococo Collage Series:
All the collages in this series were completed on stretched canvases. Many layers of various materials were built up and then ripped partly away. Supplemental images were then added to achieve unity of form, composition, and narrative. The collage/de-college process was chosen because it allows for the use of existing propaganda material (advertising slogans and images) and also helps to ensure an element of chance to the finished work.