The invention and introduction of collage in painting has been the equivalent of a detoxification cure. Thanks to it, painters have been spared, for a moment, from the hypnotic servitude of paste and brush. They have freed their hand, their eyes and their spirit from the charms, too bewitching, of the color contained in a tube. Strange thing, and to which not enough attention has been paid, they have entered the realm of raw matter.
They have given up during the precise time, in order to acquire better habits, the seductive appearance, in order to take care, above all, of what could be in the background. The collage is unquestionably a conquest of Cubism. Its inventor, or at least its instigator, was Fraque. When in 1911 he added, for the first time, to one of his paintings an inscription in typographical characters, he had no doubt of being in sight of one of the greatest discoveries of modern art. Is it worth accepting as a remote precedent of collage the letters that adorn the old manuscripts or the scriptures painted on paintings and religious altarpieces of the fourteenth century?
Weeks later (of the invention), Braque showed it to Picasso, who was enthusiastic and immediately saw that these anonymous and obedient objects of the phenomenological world not only eliminated all kinds of personal virtuosity, but in their new context could produce a wonderful series of reverberations in the mind and in the view of the spectator. They were diverse, perceptible realities, reinforcing each other and altering all the preconceived notions of truth in the spectator. Obviously many things could be done with the papier collé. And Picasso began his experiments immediately.