The Met and the art of cut and paste

Say a phrase as dangerous as “early female artists” and you’re likely to conjure romantic or pastoral images or perhaps Mary Cassatt’s soft-focus portraits of mother and child. But just before Cassatt and after the formidable female painting talent from the medieval and renaissance periods, the ladies of the Victorian era also dabbled in the arts, specifically the art of cut and paste. Don’t roll your eyes at the term “Victorian photocollage.” These works were not created by bonneted women during their afternoon tea service. The Victorian photocollage is surprisingly surreal. While some are admittedly prim, most of the examples on view at the Met’s new exhibition could double for illustrations from any of Lewis Carroll’s more trippy scenes.

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 2 – May 9, 2010.