Collage Paintings


"Otnes shares with other modern collagists the mad conceit that chance is a mainstay of composition, and that chaos can be a matter of most sublime order. In going over his fine-arts inspirations, Otnes mentions, of course, the Picasso of 'Three Musicians,' that cut-paper bombadier, Kurt Schwitters, the evocative, ticket-and-wine-label issuances of Robert Motherwell, and maybe -- only maybe -- Joseph Cornell."

--Gerrit Henry, Consulting editor, ARTnews and Art in America

In the hands of collage artist, Fred Otnes, control merges with chance to create works of subtle, refined beauty that are designed with such assurance as to appear inevitable, works that are infused with a mystery that is both fleeting and eternal.

Born in 1930 in Junction City, Kansas, Otnes trained at theArt Institute of Chicago, where he first encountered Cubist works by Braque and Picasso. The Modernist commitment to form without the illusion of depth captured his imagination, though it would be some time before he incorporated it into his own work. Otnes first pursued a career in traditional, realistic illustration in Chicago, and then, from 1953, in New York, working for national magazines and advertising clients.

By the mid 1960s, aware of the shrinking market in magazine illustration, Otnes made a bold change in his method of working, finally putting into play the ideas that had dictated his taste and interest for years. Using new-honed printing, photo-transfer, and collage techniques, he pioneered a unique look: multiple images across a one-dimensional plane. This was the perfect form in which to depict some of the more complex concepts of the era such as the war in Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement. At the top of his field, Otnes received more than two hundred awards for his work.


--Excerpted from "Fred Otnes - Collage Paintings" by Jill Bossert. Publisher: Madison Square Press, New York, NY, 2003