Definition of Assemblage

Robert Rauschenberg - Monogram, 1955-59.
Robert Rauschenberg (American, b. 1925). Monogram, 1955-59. Freestanding combine. 106.6 x 160.6 x 163.8 cm (42 x 63 1/4 x 64 1/2 in.). Moderna Museet, Stockholm. © Robert Rauschenberg / Adagp, Paris, 2006

(noun) - As one familiar with the word "assembly" might assume, assemblage is a form of sculpture comprised of "found" objects arranged in such a way that they create a piece. These objects can be anything organic or man-made. Scraps of wood, stones, old shoes, baked bean cans and a discarded baby buggy - or any of the other 84,000,000 items not here mentioned by name - all qualify for inclusion in an assemblage. Whatever catches the artist's eye, and fits properly in the composition to make a unified whole, is fair game.

The important thing to know about assemblage is that it is "supposed" to be three-dimensional and different from collage, which is "supposed" to be two-dimensional (though both are similarly eclectic in nature and composition). But! There's a really fine, nearly invisible line between a bulky, multi-layered collage and an assemblage done in extremely shallow relief. In this large, grey area between assemb- and col-, the safest course is to take the artist's word for it.



Also Known As:

construction, bricolage, collage (inaccurately), sculpture


Let's save many thousands of words here and look at some pictures of assemblages done by different artists.

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Esaak, Shelley. "Definition of Assemblage." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Esaak, Shelley. (2020, August 25). Definition of Assemblage. Retrieved from Esaak, Shelley. "Definition of Assemblage." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).