I Read the News Today, Oh Boy
Five artists use newspaper as both material and subject.
Jun 19, 2020
These days, we don’t receive visitors. Our friends appear in little disembodied boxes on our screens. But I still receive the newspaper as, well, paper: a satisfyingly material object whose daily arrival provides comfort, even as the messages on its pages contain ever-more-heartbreaking words and images. Long before the digital alternative was available, and steadily since, artists have conscripted newspaper as an artistic material—one that comes with readymade messages. Even as they paste its pieces into formal configurations, they let the world into the frame. Here are five examples from MoMA’s collection, spanning almost exactly a century.
Georges Braque. Still Life with Tenora. 1913
With papier collés (“pasted papers”) such as this one, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso ruptured traditional pictorial space, introducing a real object into the arena of illusion. Braque snipped this fragment from the short-lived political, artistic, and literary journal L’Echo d’Avignon; the word “echo” reinforces the sonorous quality of the drawn tenora, a woodwind instrument. Just as your morning paper might sit on a breakfast table, the periodical’s partial title joins a glass rendered in charcoal on an upturned oval. Other newspapers’ titles appear in similar works, such as the cameo of El Diluvio, a Barcelona-based daily, in Picasso’s contemporaneous Guitar.
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