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Culture Collage

For Grades 4–12

Jiri Kolar estate; courtesy Galerie Lelong

Table of Contents

Featured Work
Background Information for Educators
Prepatory Activity
Alternate Activity
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum

Featured Work

Jirí Kolár
(Czech, 1914–2002)
Cycladic Heads, 1976
Chiasmage on wood
15 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 5 7/8 inches (39.4 x 45.1 x 14.9 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Evelyn Rumsey Cary Fund, 1977


  • Students will learn about Greek culture and its influence
  • Students will create a Jirí Kolár–inspired collage


Ancient Greek culture is credited for numerous accomplishments that have greatly shaped modern day civilization. Greek thoughts and ideas have influenced multiple areas of humanities such as literature, drama, and art. Other areas of influence by the Greeks have been on modern government, science, and math. Many artists, writers, and playwrights still use themes and stories with roots in ancient Greek literature and drama. Jirí Kolár comments on these influences using his own invented method of collage, which he called chiasmage, in Cycladic Heads.

Jirí Kolár’s collage techniques:

  • Chiasmage: Torn paper fragments with text (for example, scripts, foreign languages, Braille, hieroglyphics, etc.) that is glued down.
  • Rollage: Paper, with or without images, is cut into strips of equal width and glued down.
  • Froissage: Paper, with or without images, that is crumpled up, then flattened and glued down.


  • Telling Tales Presentation, Slides #2–7
  • Pencils
  • Various types and colors of paper, many different types of magazines, old books
  • Scissors and glue/paste
  • Optional: Shoeboxes, tagboard, old unwanted photographs, unwanted sheet music


Have the students choose an ancient or contemporary culture. They can do research to discover what the culture is known for and write down characteristics of the culture—for example, characteristics of Ancient Egyptian culture might include Pharaohs, pyramids, hieroglyphics, shadufs (machines to move water from a lower place to a higher place), and mummies.

Alternative: Ask your students to choose a topic they are passionate about, and write down at least five words that relate to it—for example, words related to soccer might include ball, cleat, World Cup, competition, and goals.


Once they have completed that task, show the Telling Tales Presentation, Slides #2–7. Explain that they will be creating a collage related to the culture (or passion) they selected, similar to what Jirí Kolár did with his sculpture about ancient Greek culture.


  • Demonstrate Jirí Kolár’s three collage techniques (described on Slide #3). Explain that all three techniques have to be used at least once in the collage.
  • Have the magazines, books, photographs, and any other materials spread out for the students to look through. Ask them to cut out images and text that relate to their chosen topic. (Hint: If students are struggling to find images within the magazines, they can also draw images or collect images from the Internet.)
  • Once students have selected their images, lead a discussion about composition. For example, how larger design elements tend to look closer, overlapping one object in front of another makes the in-front element seem closer, and brighter colors make elements appear closer. Students should glue/paste the collected images onto flat tagboard (or a thick piece of paper).


If you have more time, have the students design a sculpture for their collage (from shoe boxes and tagboard) that relates to their culture. For example, for Egypt, the sculpture could be in the shape of a mummy case; for soccer it could be in the shape of the World Cup.


  • New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
  • New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies 1, 2
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading 1, 2, 3
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 4


  • Jirí Kolár's Cycladic Heads: Audio for Younger Students

  • Jirí Kolár's Cycladic Heads: Audio for High School Students

  • Jirí Kolár's Cycladic Heads: Audio Description