Collage as a form of artistic expression dates back as far as images on paper could be cut out, reassembled, and affixed to a support. With the wide distribution of printed images in the 20th century, the technique was discovered as a way to reference and comment on modern life and current events. The ease with which images can be taken out of their original context to create a new statement has amused and inspired artists for generations. The Dadaists employed it to comment on the irrationality and horrors of war, while the Surrealists appreciated the ability to randomly arrange the cut up parts to facilitate new associations. With its overtones of opposition and political protest, the cut-up messiness of ransom notes became the preferred look to carry the do-it-yourself and no-future attitudes of the 1970s punk movement.
With the availability of computers, graphic programs, and the endless and immediate supply of images through the Internet, digital collage replaced the need to physically manipulate paper and ways of manipulation evolve in step with the development of new digital tools. But many artists today are rediscovering the physical aspects of printed source material. Appreciating texture and colors and the implied date and place of creation as an additional dimension, contemporary artists often identify sourcing these images as part of the creative process.
Cut & Paste at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art presented work ranging from paper collage to large-scale sculptural work and multi-media installations by Colorado-based, as well as nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.