I've been making collage for a little over a year now, but oddly enough, I'm not very familiar with the history, nor am I familiar with many artists who have built a career on collage. It's still a 'very-new-to-me' creative process, and it actually helps not to have too many outside influences.
I did come across one collage artist during my trip to Art Basel that really caught my eye, a French artist by the name of Jacques Villeglé. Much of his work utilizes layers of printed posters taken off walls and plastered onto canvas and board. Villeglé does an amazing job of utilizing the torn paper elements to create form and space, as well as using texture and color to create unique and distresses designs. I especially love the use of typography and layers of printed paper to achieve hide design, as well. In most cases, it seems that time and the elements create most of the work.
Jacques Villegé / "L'Horizontale Au Signe Mauve" (1965)
Jacques Villegé / "1926 De Raphaël à Mathieu" (1965)
The above is my attempt to utilize some of Villeglé's influence for a similarly-styled collage design. My piece focuses heavily on type and less so on distress. Not that I want to become the next Jacques Villeglé, but it is obvious he is an inspiration; maybe the Warhol of collage artist.
Another artist I discovered while researching Villeglé is Italian artist, Mimmo Rotella. Rotella has more of a cinematic focus to his work, using moving posters and film starlets as his subjects. You will easily find Marilyn Monroe images throughout his body work.
Mimmo Rotella / "Marilyn" (1991)
I do dig Rotella's work, however, I'm a bit burned out on the Marilyn Monroe subject matter. Check out some of his other film-inspired collage designs, if you have a moment, though...totally worth it.
I'm sure I have a bit more research to do on classic and contemporary artists (should the mood strike), but like I said, not knowing is half the fun. In a way, I can create my own rules without having to know them. Of course, all art is subjective, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't like what I do, But, I'm enjoying making this art for myself and sharing when I wanna. I hope I can see more of Villeglé's work in person soon. That may be the only reason I get on a plane and fly overseas anytime soon. I'll be sure to bring my collage tools with me, too.