Limitless is the first word that comes to mind. The freedom to express and create without borders. This would be a perfect description of mixed media, an art category that holds many wonderous creations.
What’s mixed media art? Well, it’s actually exactly as it sounds. It’s art that is created using more than one medium. In other words, a mixture of different mediums.
So, let’s talk about what a medium is exactly. A medium is none other than a material, item, liquid, or basically anything the artist uses to create art. Very common mediums are acrylic paint, oil paint, ink, etc. But a medium can basically be anything the artist decides to use. For example, if the artist decides to use paint, a rope and old newspapers to express creativity then those three are your mediums. Just keep in mind there are almost no limitations when it comes to creating art.
But don’t confuse mixed media art with multimedia art. Multimedia art refers to a much wider area of art. When people talk about multimedia they talk about, for example, video installations, light shows, performance art and so on.
Mixed media has been around for centuries. However, it was never considered an art category per se. The reason, back in the olden days mixed media wasn’t used for artistic purposes, but out of necessity. For example, when you visit the Vatican you can admire those amazing paintings when you enter the main hall of the cathedral. Or can you? Well, you can’t. Those murals you see aren’t paintings at all. They are a necessary form of mixed media art. The artists who created them used painted mosaic tiles to create those immense portraits and spectacles. The reason was that paintings would just go bad after time due to humidity and exposure to the elements.
One the first mixed media works of art that used multiple mediums for aesthetic, creative reasons was Pablo Picasso’s collage “Still Life with Chair Caning”. Picasso used paper, cloth and rope in this collage to create a three dimensional effect.
There are a couple types of mixed media art that have become so popular they have been granted their own subcategories.
This subcategory became popular by great artists like Picasso and Braque. It’s best described as the act of combining different elements or materials into one work of art. A very popular collage technique is that of combining different photos into a new scene. Another very popular collage technique is that of combining newspaper articles with other mediums.
This subcategory of mixed media art is best described as the three dimensional variant of collage. When an artist creates an assemblage he or she uses three dimensional elements that jump out of the work of art. Can you remember that work of art, Gladys, that Phoebe from hit tv-show Friends had on her wall? The one that Rachel was scared of? Perfect example of assemblage.
A rather less known subcategory by name. But the chance is high that you already have encountered a found object mixed media work of art. The name is actually a very good description. Found Object art is art made from objects that are normally not considered objects suitable or relatable to art and most of the time these objects are just found on the street. Found Object art was popularised by Marcel Duchamp, a French mixed media artist. One of his most famous works is called ‘Fountain’. It’s a fountain made out of an old urinal.
One of the main reasons to consider acquiring a mixed media work of art is the strength and outspokenness that just radiates from this category. The main difference between mixed media and other forms of art is the depth and the, sometimes, craziness of the work.
A good thing to consider when searching for your next mixed media artwork is the location where you will exposé it. If you’re not careful that crazy outspokenness can become its downfall. If you place it in an already busy decor it might become too overwhelming. Also, a classical style might be hard to combine with a modern and racy mixed media work of art. It’s best to find a prime location on a relatively sizeable white wall. That way it will not interfere with other elements and it can be admired in all it’s might.
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