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Kristine Stiles

Process of unsticking and ripping through successive layers of glued paper. The term first appeared in print in the Dictionnaire abrégé du surréalisme accompanying the catalogue of the Exposition internationale du surréalisme held at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1938. The technique developed through the use of posters torn from street walls to expose underlying images as interpenetrating forms within an overall surface. The altered posters revealed the fragmentary, confusing and alienating character of representation. Décollage represents a socially engaged practice. Unlike the constructive and atemporal unification of disparate materials in collage, from which it is derived, décollage is deconstructive and historical, an archaeological process unmasking the sequential, continuous relation of apparently dissociated images and events. In 1949 Raymond Hains began to collect, and perform the décollage technique on, commercial and political posters to exhibit them as aesthetic objects and sociological documents. Throughout the 1950s he and other artists associated with ...