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Mixed Media

İrfan Önürmen
Mixed media on newspaper
27 x 18 cm (10.6 x 7.1 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and C24 Gallery, New York

Mixed media is a term that incorporates any work of art created through the use of multiple ‘media’ or materials, such as collage or paintings also incorporating drawing, printing or any other artistic elements. Mixed media differs from ‘multimedia,’ which is a more recent term used to describe an artwork that uses or includes a combination of electronic media – video, audio, light - and new technologies.

Mixed media artworks rose to prominence around 1912 with the Cubist collages and constructions of European avant-garde artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and has since become widespread. Both of these artists collaged and drew across newsprint, and therefore brought reality into their artworks.

This practice paved the way for Pop Artists such as Jasper Johns or, both American painters and leaders of the movement. While Johns used newsprint as a backing for his paintings to locate them in a particular place and time, Rauschenberg’s Combines (1954–1964) extended to including everyday objects as art materials. By creating works that blur the distinctions between painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg can be seen as a forerunner to installation artists – a more contemporary artform where mixed media are used to create immersive spaces.

In the 1990s, with the advent of the Young British Artists, it was accepted that mixed media artworks could incorporate almost anything, and this remains the case today. The most famous examples include Tracey Emin’s unmade My Bed (1998), which was strewn with clothing, food and even bodily fluids, her contemporary Chris Ofili developed vast paintings including elephant dung, and Damien Hirst continues to create 'Kaleidoscope' paintings through placing thousands of butterfly wings into household paint.

Robert Rauschenberg
Pantomime, 1961
Oil, enamel, paper, fabric, wood, metal, and rubber wheel on canvas with electric fans
213.4 x 152.4 x 50.8 cm (84 x 60 x 20 in.)
In private collection. Courtesy of Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein

Related categories




Media Art


Wall Installation/Sculpture


Site-specific Installation

Everyday Objects

Conceptual Art

Pop Art

Photo Collage

Digital Collage

Recycled Materials


Textile Art


Mixed Media Installation


(Inspired by) Cubism


Native American Art

Using Unusual Tools and Materials


Archival Materials

Art Fair

Paper Collage


Zero Movement