Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Contact Info: 

Erika Monroe-Kane, Director of Communications
608.257.0158 x 237 or

A Tumultuous Assembly

A Tumultuous Assembly

at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

May 24 – July 27, 2014

MADISON, WI–A Tumultuous Assembly: Collage, Assemblage, and the Found Object, presented by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, is on view in the State Street Gallery through July 27.  This dynamic exhibition explores the current applications and artistic legacy of radical methods of art making, which revolutionized the nature and history of modern art.

A Tumultuous Assembly explores how artists elevated commonplace objects and castoff debris from their everyday context into works of fine art; an approach initiated by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Marcel Duchamp in 1912–13. Practitioners disrupt the division separating art from life; overturning longstanding cultural and artistic norms and infusing the ordinary with a poignant lyricism. Drawn from MMoCA’s permanent collection, A Tumultuous Assembly presents contemporary interpretations of collage and assemblage, created during the second half of the twentieth century, by such artists as Don Baum, Henry Botkin, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ray Yoshida, among others. 

The exhibition title refers to a typographical collage by the Futurist poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, a pioneer of parole in libertá (words-in-freedom). Advocating for a more progressive style of free-verse poetry, he sought to emancipate the written word from the constraints of grammatical structure, thematic continuity, and linear typesetting. He constructed his poems as pictorial word collages, cutting out numbers, letters, and symbols from newspapers and pasting them to the page in playful visual arrangements. In harnessing typography and page layout for expressive purposes, Marinetti allowed for the integration of non-linguistic influences into the domain of writing. And, much as Marinetti opened up literary practice, collage artists similarly expand the boundaries of fine art. They coax latent potential from even the humblest materials, bringing together disparate media, imagery, and texts into a single whole. 

In examining artists’ diverse approaches to collage and assemblage, this exhibition endeavors to show how these techniques can be used to express ideas about modernity and America’s throwaway culture, and as a way to capture the visual poetry of the everyday. The resulting works of art are richly textured hybrids whose shifting colors, forms, and associations can be read as metaphors for the constantly fluctuating realities of contemporary life.

Generous funding for A Tumultuous Assembly has been provided by Dan and Natalie Erdman; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.


Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday–Thursday (noon–5 pm); Friday (noon–8 pm); Saturday (10 am–8 pm); and Sunday (noon–5 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays.

Admission to exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is free of charge. MMoCA is supported through memberships and through generous contributions and grants from individuals, corporations, agencies, and foundations. Important support is also generated through auxiliary group programs; special events; rental of the museum’s lobby, lecture hall, and rooftop garden; and sales through the Museum Store.

# # #