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When collage is first explained in art classes, it seems so simple. Pasting different items together to form something new does look a lot easier than sculpting something from a large block of marble. But the examples of assemblage and collage featured in “Over, Under, Next,” now on display at the Hirshhorn, are way more ambitious and involve many more materials than paper and glue sticks. Picasso incorporated found objects into his works a century ago, but since then, the medium has expanded in ways large and small—just look at Joseph Cornell’s tiny “Medici Princess” (shown) or Ann Hamilton’s “palimpsest,” a room-sized installation covered in newsprint, cabbages, and beeswax. True, a pile of wire hangers might not seem to bear the same artistic merit as a Monet or a Hopper when they’re piled in the closet, but put them together well enough and you just might create a masterpiece. Maybe you’ll leave the museum with plans to reassemble all your belongings.
The exhibition is on view daily April 18 to Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 633-1000. hirshhorn.si.edu.