How is a sculpture of neon-colored Easter baskets similar to a Picasso collage? That question is at the heart of the Hirshhorn’s new exhibit, “Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913-Present,” which brings together roughly 100 works of mixed media from the 20th century. Starting with the early experiments of George Braques in 1913, the exhibit shows the wide range of applications, from playful to nostalgic, political to personal.
Drawing on mass-produced media and objects allows artists to comment on common cultural touchstones. Every movement from Cubism to Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, utilized “non-art” materials. Though found objects sometimes appear in artworks predating modernism, the exhibit points to the 20th-century concept of collage or assemblage as a new moment in art, one whose influence is still felt 100 years later.