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Analog Cut-Out Collages Reimagine America’s Cowboy

An invisible cowboy stars in Michael Tunk’s 'The Unknown Rider' collage series.

by Nathaniel Ainley
13 October 2016, 4:50pm

In Hidden Blood. Images courtesy the artist

Gallant images of cowboys, outlaws, and ranch hands are recast as collage cuts-out that merge their figurative subjects with harsh desert landscapes. In these images, artist Michael Tunk has taken what look like ads for John Wayne films or Marlboro ads and turned them into surrealist portraits of the American West. These compositions are part of The Unknown Rider, an ongoing series of collages years in the making.

Tunk refers to his work as “analog collage” because each piece is made by hand. The Bay Area artist hand-cuts photographs and magazines from the 1800s through 1980s using a hobby knife and puts them back together with glue and tape. He creates these translucent characters by playing with the transparency of his subjects' silhouettes, so they blend in with their backgrounds. This allows him to recontextualize the original images and establish dramatic juxtapositions between the characters and their mythical environments. Check out more of The Unknown Rider series below: 

Fair Blows the Wind

In Throw a Tall Shadow

Taking Names

Death Rides the Pecos

Check out more work by Michael Tunk on his website.

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