Dear friends and colleagues; most of you will know more, since I'm a new-comer in the field. For an essay to be written: what would you consider the first art assemblage. In paleontology it's fairly simple: think of just more than 500 million years ago. But for art: who 'picked items and constructed an assemblage, while these items were not meant to be part of artwork in origin' (free after William Seitz).

(Photo shows early phase of "Fact-ohry")

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I think assemblages probably started as actual tools and as they broke, people of that time tried to fix and when that did not work they just stuck them all together.

Something by Cornell, naturally, before him most likely Braque or Picasso if there were 3 dimensional additions-

interesting question.  I'm surprised I don't see any answers here. 

I suppose that so far the first art assemblage must be the newly found Neanderthal ring of stagmites and stalagtites in a cave in France dated to 170,000 years ago - although reasons for it's construction may have been ritual or for some other lost reason - I myself assume that there must also have been some level of creative and artistic selection and expression in it's construction - here is a link to it

Thanks Bryan,

that would bring the medium backwards considerably. Question is: did the Neanderthaler willfully gather the stalagmites and stalagtites in order to create "assembly"or assemblage. Or did these items stand (hang) in the way, and did they deposit these in a corner?

regards, Drager

they did arrange them for certain - as to the purpose - now lost in the annals of time ... there are now thankfully many more articles concerning this initial discovery of thes neanderthal cirles in caves in France - hopefully this link will work and it has good pictures

Drager Meurtant said:

Thanks Bryan,

that would bring the medium backwards considerably. Question is: did the Neanderthaler willfully gather the stalagmites and stalagtites in order to create "assembly"or assemblage. Or did these items stand (hang) in the way, and did they deposit these in a corner?

regards, Drager

Thanks Bryan,

Thanks for the link. Next essay i must look at the definition of assemblage. As of now, the circle of stalagtites and stalagmites indeed seems an early example. Don't know whtehr in terms of 'art', this also fits.

(and I'm not on facebook: medium too much penetrating in a person's existence).

best, Drager

Hi Drager,

The over the last 50 years, most historians point out that the first fine art collage also happens to be the first assemblage: Pablo Picasso's Still Life with Chair Caning. 

But Scholars also suggest that a precursor to this is Degas' Little Dancer Aged 14 sculpture:

These designations make sense from the point of view of European fine art practice and tradition. What makes Picasso's so stunning, and not Degas' is that Picasso and Braque—who are both given due credit for jointly pioneering collage—is that once Picasso and Braque began experimenting with collage techniques, there work inspired many other artists to also experiment. It is an amazing fact that within a year of the inception dates of fine art collage—May to September of 1912—collage in fine art was found in cultures the world over. That cannot be said for Dagas' work.

If we expand our understanding of assemblage to it's basic components—any two physically joined objects—then we most certainly can include the very first tool made by hominids as works of assemblages. But the thing is, the collage revolution was initiated by the creative destruction of European traditions that caused the sensation to spread like wild fire. When i discuss assemblage with my students in my art history slide shows, i have a slide to point out that simple definition of combining objects to form tools can be considered an early act of collage/assemblage. It is useful to consider such a basic need as to combine and to collage. The key idea here for assemblage is that artists used things they did not create themselves and fashioned together something new out of found materials at a time with the tradition in Europe for sculpture was only three possibilities: subtractive process (carving wood, carving stone, sometimes clay), additive process (hand-building clay and any other building material, wood, metal etcetera), and bronze casting.

Regarding research, i would recommend Diane Waldman, Collage, Assemblage and the Found Object

Also, see William Seitz, The Art of Assemblage:

These are classic texts on the subject.

Hope that is of interest, even though i see your post is several years old!

Hello Todd,

Still alive, so it's not too late. There is also the pub by Drager Meurtant, "Assemblages: the entrails explained" in Axon Journal Issue 9 (Assemblage, free online access). When almost finished writing, the Seitz book arrived, and I had great joy. Now, more time goes into graphics, but collage and assemblage are still part of my activities.

Shouldn't forget poetry. all together we speak about Drager Meurtant - Paleidokopus (2018). Not on amazone...

What about that Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1500's) who made portraits from vegetables and plant forms?

Of course they were not actual physical forms but none the less he conceptualised an approach to representing abstract concepts such as eg the four seasons in terms of items associated with the subject.

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