Collages all too often get a bad rap in the art world. When most people think of collages, they probably envision those school projects where kids are encouraged to paste together cut-out snippets from their favorite magazines in an attempt to convey their wide-ranging interests and curiosities. Collage art often elicits a criticism similar to that leveled upon abstract artists and modernists whose work often warrants the rote ignorant response, “My kids could do that!”

But the works from the forthcoming four collage artists are nothing like the child’s play of elementary craft classrooms. These artists splice together seemingly disparate images and patterns in order to evoke unexpected emotions and reflections from the viewer. Though the messages within the pieces are often inexplicable, rarely are they uninteresting.

Thomas Spieler

Thomas Spieler is a German-born artist whose work in collage has produced stunning and fantastical pieces that would make even the most hesitant skeptic reconsider the medium. Spieler often juxtaposes cut-outs from vintage black and white photos against bursts of color from newer photographs to create an entirely different scene. His collages (and his breathtaking collage portraits) reassembles images from two different photographic eras in a way that’s mysterious, thought provoking, and original.

Djuno Tomsni

Djuno Tomsni (according to his Flickr) is a French artist. Like Spieler, Tomsni works with disparate images to create a whole new photographic landscape for his collages. However Tomsni’s works have a sort of dark whimsy about them that distinguishes his collages from others. In his piece The Valley, cut-out photographs of swimmers from a bygone time are pasted on a lunar landscape, contemplating nearby rock outcroppings and distant planets instead of the ocean. Another piece, Moon In Water, has a women climbing out of a pool that’s been pasted onto another lunar landscape, giving the piece a jarring yet contemplative “out of this world” feeling.

Nicole Wermers

Nicole Wermers is a German-born artist currently living in the UK. Wermers’ collages have a more polished feel to them, appearing less homespun than the work of the previous two artists. Her images are often so tightly and seamlessly spliced together that it’s hard to determine exactly what the original images were at all. Wermers work is undoubtedly surreal, but she executes her work with precision and cleanliness that still doesn’t take away from the intrigue of her work.

Mark Bradford

The only American on the list, Mark Bradford has been perfecting the art of collage for years. Born and based in Los Angeles, Bradford’s collages are as raw as they are arrestingly beautiful. Whereas the other artists on this list primarily collage with photographs, Bradford draws on a number of different textiles and substances to piece his works together. For example Brad utilized a number of different media for his stunning piece Black Venus, including billboard paper, carbon paper, and acrylic gel. I highly recommend checking out Bradford’s work on his website, which allows users to get an intimate perspective of the artist’s work.

About the author: Rachel Sanders is a freelance blogger, writer, and designer currently working for webdesignschoolsguide.com. When she’s not writing about design and design education, Rachel spends her time studying typography, taking pictures and surfing the web for design inspiration. Feel free to send some comments her way!