Woolf and collage, anyone?
That was the question that came up on the VWoolf Listserv a few weeks ago. Other list members promptly and generously shared information on the topic of Woolf and modern collage.
Here are the highlights of that discussion, along with some details I have added:
- Brenda Helt cited Woolf’s writing about the 1910 and 1912 Post-Impressionist Exhibitions and the Omega Workshop. Specifically, she mentioned the
sometimes snide and snarky commentary” in Volumes 1 and 2 of Woolf’s letters, indexed as “Post-impressionist Exhibition” and “Omega Workshop,” and “her later more complex and appreciative understanding” included in the chapters on Post-impressionism and the Omega in Woolf’s biography of Roger Fry.
- Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other post-impressionists worked with collage. Both used collage in objects sold at the Omega Workshops and in decorating furniture at Charleston Farmhouse and elsewhere.
- Woolf knew of early Cubist collage, but would have been most familiar with applied arts such as collage through Bell’s and Grant’s work, as well as the work of other Bloomsbury artists.
- Three examples of Bell’s and Grant’s collages from 1912, 1914 and 1915 are included in the exhibition catalog for A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections. You can read a post about the last stop on that exhibit’s 2010 cross-country tour here. Collage examples in the exhibition catalogue include:
- Bell’s Composition (1914), oil and gouache on cut-and-pasted paper, Page 124
- Grant’s In Memoriam: Rupert Brooke (1915), oil and collage on panel, Page 176
- Grant’s Design for a Fire Screen (1912), watercolor, gouache and collage, Page 220
- Christopher Reed, associate professor of English and visual culture at Penn State, discusses and shows examples of others in Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, Domesticity. They include:
- Grant’s On the Mantelpiece, 46 Gordon Square (1914), oil and collage on board, Page 149.
- Roger Fry’s Essay in Abstract Design (1915), oil and collaged bus tickets, Page 155.
- Grant’s Abstract Kinetic Collage Painting with Sound (1914), gouache, watercolor and collage on paper, Page 156
- Grant’s Abstract (1914-5), paint, fabric and collaged paper on board, Page 158
- Grant’s Interior at 46 Gordon Square (1914-5), collaged paper on board, Page 159
- In Bloomsbury Rooms, Reed discusses Grant’s use of a piece of foil from a cigarette pack liner in In Memoriam as its only collaged element and says it is echoed in Woolf’s review of Edward Marsh’s 1918 memoir on Brooke (161). He also mentions that reviewers unanimously dismissed Grant’s abstract collages in the 1915 Vorticist exhibition, calling them a foreign joke (162).
- Other important research sources on this topic include:
- Frances Spalding’s biographies of Bell and of Grant
- Simon Watney’s The Art of Duncan Grant
- Douglas Turnbaugh’s Duncan Grant and the Bloomsbury Group
- Richard Shone’s The Art of Bloomsbury
- Bell and Nicholson’s Charleston