Published by Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Text by Ingrid Schaffner.
Since the 1980s, Douglas Blau has used words and pictures interchangeably to create a highly regarded and unique body of work. He emerged as a critic and curator in tandem with the Pictures Generation of artists. In 1987, his exhibition Fictions: A Selection of Pictures from the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries was the first in a maverick series to apply curatorial practice to the construction of explicit narratives. Blau creates picture epics and episodes from uniformly framed collages of printed matter: postcards, film stills, images of paintings and photographs, pictures of all kinds are cut and pasted into individual collage elements. These are composed into sequences based on formal and narrative associations that flow from frame to frame. Centuries of picture making appear distilled through Blauís art into an essential repertoire of characters, plots, periods, styles, locations, and genres. Only the details and degrees of abstraction vary over time and through reproduction, the mechanics of which produce the shifts of tone, texture, and color that Blau orchestrates into each overall composition. This volume provides an overview of this pioneering collagist.