Background 1920s 1980s Present Day

The art of photomontage could be said to have started just after the First World War, but the manipulation of photographs already had a history going back to the invention of photography in the mid 19th century.

Direct contact printing of objects placed on photographic plates, double exposures, and composite pictures made by darkroom masking were all popular in the Victorian era. Besides this practical use of combination photography, Victorians discovered the amusement to be had from postcards of the wrong head stuck on a different body, or the creation of strange or impossible creatures.

But it was not until the revolutionary times following the "Great War" that artists began to see the use of montage as a truly new art form. The centre of this explosion of creativity was Berlin, where a group of artists calling themselves Dada was looking for a new means of expression: one that had more meaning than the prevailing drift into abstraction, but that did not simply return to the traditions of figurative painting.

As Surrealism became the dominant European art form, photomontage gradually faded into obscurity for many years, until there was a revival in the 1960s, partly inspired by a renewed interest in Dada. Several of the artists connected with the Pop Art movement used magazine photos and text to convey the ethos of the age. At this time, and to an extent in response to the increasing populism of art, advertisers jumped on the bandwagon and started to produce more photomontages, a trend that continues to this day.

The next great revival in the use of montage in Europe was connected with the politics of the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s. Poster for Fritz Lang's Metropolis by Boris Bilinsky. Much of the imagery at this time was designed for use in banners for demonstrations, producing a very graphic means of communication.

The history of the "cut-up" started with the still image and cinema, but since those days the field has expanded to include text, sound, and digital montage using graphics programs like Photoshop, which will be included in version 2 of this site.


My own photomontages and animations can be seen at my personal portfolio site Pabulum Pix. Please email me with your feedback and ideas.


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Victorian Victorian










Present Day




Visit Pabulum Pix for more montage.