Collage, Assemblage, and Altered Art – review

By | 25 March 10

Collage, Assemblage and Altered Art by Diane Maurer-Mathison is a good book for a school, the library of an art organization or club, or a public library.

It’s a thorough book about collage and assemblage, and it demonstrates altered art as well.  Though readers may not be able to find the exact items used in this project book, I think the ideas can be adapted to other materials, if your brain works in that direction.

However, if you want a by-the-numbers approach to learning collage, assemblage or altered art, the projects may not always work for you.

In addition, I can’t rave about this book without reservations.

I like the book cover.  (Well, mostly.)

I wanted to be really excited about this book.  I even read it twice, months apart.

But… it’s not an exciting book.  Not for me, anyway.

Sure, there’s something for everyone in its pages, but also something to bore everyone… if they’re at all familiar with this field of art.

For me, the clue was the vintage photo with the clown’s hat (or dunce’s cap) on the cover.  That was a cliche about ten years ago.  At this point,  that imagery can be annoying to old-timers (like me), but it might still charm people who are discovering collage and assemblage for the first time.

I don’t want to sound as if I hate this book.  I don’t.  I actually like it, but not enough to own it.

It’s the kind of book that teachers will love because it’s a good, general reference.   Almost any student can find something inspiring in its pages.

Like most of Maurer-Mathison’s books, this is a top-quality approach to a broad, art-related subject.  She touches on every major point that someone will want to know about, if they’re exploring collage, assemblage and altered art.

My problem is, I wanted more extravagance from Collage, Assemblage and Altered Art.  I wanted the author — and the art in this book — to go out on a limb, try daring and exciting things, and generally inspire me.  I’m not sure if the publisher was being conservative, or what, but — for me — the exuberance was missing.

Compare this book with Altered Curiosities by Jane Ann Wynn; for me, Wynn’s book will win, nine times out of ten.

That said, I don’t think Maurer-Mathison intended it as anything intense or controversial.  It’s not quite a textbook, but… it’s a lot like one.

If you’re buying books for a public library or a school, get this book. That’s an easy choice, because your patrons will enjoy this book tremendously.  It’ll be taken out of the library often, and recommended to others.

However, if it’s for your own bookshelf, I can’t give it the same endorsement.

Of course, you should take a look at it, but I recommend browsing through it at a local bookstore, instead of buying it sight-unseen at Amazon.

art books reviews rating - 3 stars

Collage, Assemblage and Altered Art by Diane Maurer-Mathison

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