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
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
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
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
The next great
revival in the use of montage in Europe was connected with the
politics of the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s.
of the imagery at this time was designed for use in banners for
demonstrations, producing a very graphic means of
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.
Reviews and prices of digital cameras at Digital Camera HQ