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date: 13 November 2019


  • Philip Cooper
  • , revised by Tom Williams


Term that typically refers to sculpture made through the additive combination of found objects and materials. It was first coined by Jean Dubuffet (1901–85) in reference to his collages, but later was taken up by William Seitz for his important 1961 exhibition The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Though Seitz presented assemblage as any form of artistic or literary juxtaposition, it has subsequently been applied primarily to sculpture.

The practice was developed by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) around 1912, and it became a central component of movements such as Cubism, Constructivism, Dada, and Surrealism as well as Neo-Dada, Nouveau Réalisme, Funk art, and other trends during the postwar period. During the early 1960s, the term was often used almost interchangeably with “Junk art” to describe the work of figures such as Arman (1928–2005), John A. Chamberlain (1927–2011...

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