Mixed Media

A common phrase in contemporary art is “mixed media”. But what exactly is it? We asked North Bristol Artist Maita Robinson to explain.

A History of Mixed Media

Mixed media is something recent in Art history. One of the first attempts to mix different materials happened in Cubism.

“Head” by Picasso (1913-14)

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques experimented with mixing painting and different materials (usually newspapers, posters, or banner patches). They aimed to represent reality and considered these materials modernity’s symbols. This technique was called Collage.

Another similar technique, but in this case in three-dimensional pieces of art, was called Assemblage. This was widely used in many other Modernist Movements, like Futurism, Constructivism, even in Cubism and Surrealism. It involved taking ordinary objects and arranging them into sculptural pieces that forced the viewer to think about them differently. 

These two techniques were adopted by Post-Modernist Movements (the ones that arose after the Second World War, accordingly to some art critics). is considered the first Pop Art. The British artist Richard Hamilton (1922-2011) used collage to compose this art piece that influenced other Pop Art artists such as Andy Warhol.

Pop Art had unveiled social criticism, just like the Italian movement Art Povera (Poor Art in English). Michelangelo Pistoletto’s (1933) Venus of the Rags (1967) is an example of assemblage. He used an ordinary Venus of Milo, bought in an ornament store, and displayed with its back turned to the audience and stuck in the middle of a pile of rags. 

Does it have to be a picture?

In contemporary art, we have a massive variety of options for painting and using other media. Installations are artworks that use an expanded field such as galleries and public spaces. These give artists the opportunity to mix the traditional art techniques (like painting and sculpture) with videos, graffiti, and soundscapes among other subverted materials. Contemporary artists aim to use techniques and ideas from art history but also want to subvert art per se.

So anything goes.

Learn More

A decorative woodturned plate by Robin Goodman. The design features three horn shaped pieces swirling out from the centre. One piece is reddish brown, one is made from blond wood and the third has dark rings that create a 3D ribbed effect, even though the plate surface is smooth and flat.


Artistic woodturning combines traditional carpentry skills with creativity and imagination to produce items that are useful, decorative and not always round.
Drawings of three male figures placed in a row, one is bent touching the floor, the next is sitting on the floor with his hanmds behind his back and the third is reclining sideways accross the floor, They are loose yet anatomical in style - drawn with drawing pen and black ink line. Each figure has a pale pink watercolour swoosh behind it suggesting the basic movement of the pose. The work is painted on white art paper.

Life Drawing

When we imagine an art class, we often think of a life drawing session. Why are these so important for learning to draw?
this painting is made up of a series of swirling graphic gestural paint marks. Playful, slightle transparent primary coloured graphic shapes and textures layered accross each other. This is a small painting so in this scan every mark is amplified. Strong gestural swirls of black hold the image together in a revolving unity. By local artist Laurel Smart.

Abstract Art

Love it or loathe it, you will enrich your life with a deeper understanding of why abstract art means so much to the artists who create it

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