FACT #5: Collage IX: Landscape

George Morrison, Collage IX: Landscape, 1974, wood

Would you think this is a picture of a place? At first glance, you see many small shapes that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. You may be able to tell that the shapes are made of wood. And perhaps the faded colors remind you of old pieces of wood washed up on a beach. But why would the artist title this work “landscape”?

George Morrison grew up near Lake Superior, on Minnesota’s Grand Portage Indian Reservation. From the shore, the lake seems like an ocean. The water goes on and on until it meets the sky at the horizon. Look again at the picture. Do you see a long, flat line that looks like a distant horizon?

Perhaps you now have an idea why the artist used old wood for his collage. Morrison found many of the pieces of wood on the lake’s stony beaches. He used the colors and textures of the driftwood to “paint” a picture of the place the wood comes from. The patterns of the wood-grain reminded him of patterns seen at the lake-clouds in the sky, ripples in water, colorful patches on rocks.

“I paint from my head,” Morrison said. he did not show us exactly what the eye can see from the shore of Lake Superior. What has he shown us instead?

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