"...the principle of collage is the central principle of all art in the 20th century." -- Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)

''l'art pour l'art.'' -- Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (1767–1830) also attributed to Théophile Gautier (1811–1872)

Reviews of Collage Exhibitions:

Fred Otnes: A Restrospective
Kouros Gallery, 23 East 73rd Street, New York, NY
November 4th - 27th, 2010
Information: 212 288-5888 or visit

Fred Otnes - The Fathom or The Chain, 25 7/8" x 24 3/4"

Fred Otnes - Partners, 46.5" x 46.5"

Fred Otnes - Soest, 52" x 52"



Fred Otnes Retrospective at Kouros Gallery
November 4th - 27th, 2010

Fred Otnes: A Retrospective at Kouros Gallery is an opportunity to see the works of one of America's most innovative and influential collage artists. Since the 1950s Otnes has pioneered the use of transfers and overlays in collage, applying these techniques to richly textured and sometimes collographed backgrounds created on an etching press.

Otnes was born in Junction City, Kansas. While still in high-school he found work as an artist for the local newspaper. In the 1940s he served in the Marine Corps' Mapping and Reproduction unit and perhaps it was there that he first encountered some of the materials and techniques which would serve him so well over the years. Otnes subsequently trained briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago and started to carve a career for himself in the world of illustration. His application of the techniques of collage to illustration resulted in works which enjoyed considerable success and, for many years, graced the pages of magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Omni, Sports Illustrated, and others. In 1953 Otnes moved to New York and in 1963 he and his wife Fran settled in Connecticut. Eventually, when Otnes' work came to be appreciated as fine art, he moved away from illustration but he did not abandon the skills and technical innovations which had brought attention to his earlier efforts.

Although born in the midwest, Otnes is no regionalist. The works on exhibit at the Kouros Gallery show the artist to be a thoughtful creator whose works explore a world far more complex than the Kansas of his youth.

Classical Italian influences abound in Otnes' works, sharing space with 20th and 21st Century impulses inspired by the works of Braque, Mondrian, Picasso, and a variety of engineering and architectural sources. Partners, pictured at left, obliquely celebrates the works of Jean Dubuffet while one of the smaller works in the exhibition, The Chalburn (not shown), references both Piranesi and Whistler. Such references, however, never trump the artist's personal vision. Otnes' respect for tradition, a tradition of which he himself is an integral part, is always subordinate to his desire to explore new possibilities.

This is a show which everyone with an interest in collage should see. And if you are reading this article after the exhibition has closed, please know that Kouros Gallery always has works by Fred Otnes available for viewing.

- JT, 11.12.2010

The Kouros Gallery's website can be found at

This page is located at www.collageart.org/reviews/otnes
Created 11.12.2010
For further information contact Jonathan Talbot at jonathan@talbot1.com