Middleton is said to have described what he does with his collages “small stealing” which is an interesting way of looking at what collage artist’s do. Once you know that you feel it when you look at a work like “Modern Times”. Early in career of doing collage work he put together elements that evoke the sights and sounds related to Jazz music. He moved away from this mid-way in his career and then turned back to it in the 80’s. This time being inspired by a broader range of music that included Rodgers and Hart and Gershwin.
“Modern Times” is what you feel you are looking at if it was the 1980’s. His bits of torn paper and advertising belie the time and age. Culture surrounds us everyday – on television and the internet but in the 1980’s magazines and newspapers and print were king. Its where we learned about everything. This collage is alive and pulsing and has a strong red circle and it feels like it is pumping with the advertisements and products of the day. A lot of artist tried at this time to do similar work. It is better understood in a way now as a lot of this was about to be replaced by the internet. Yet the 80’s were heady times and everyone felt empowered and this is translated into this collage. Artist’s are often trying to process what is around them. Collage is a great medium to do this and Middleton let us know he was being aware and he was culling it all together for us.
Private collection, Netherlands
Swann Auction, New York