The artist with Albert E. Elsen, Stanford University, ca. 1970.
© Leo Holub 1970.

The artist's collages are a little known aspect of his work that has evolved since the early 50s. As the artist wrote in his monograph, Anatomy of a Cloud: "The collages to me are like diagrams. Burnt parchment maps giving indication of the terrain. Emblems that go back to another ancestral time and mean something I cannot totally explain but can feel as pointing to a place."

As shown in the above photograph, the artist envisioned a series of autobiographical montages for the monograph published in 1972 by Harry N. Abrams, with an extensive text written by the distinguished art historian, Albert E. Elsen. Later excluded from that publication, these preliminary works are shown above aligned along the wall of Albert E. Elsen's office, in a photograph taken of him with the artist at Stanford University.

Throughout the remainder of the 70s, elements from these montages gradually integrated themselves into the larger, expanded collages of Anatomy of a Cloud. Often called by the artist A Book of Guides, Anatomy of a Cloud provides a visual history in collage to the artist's life and to those who held special meaning for him, such as Martha Graham and Jean-Louis Barrault.

Prior to publication of Anatomy of a Cloud, in 1983 by Harry N. Abrams, the artist's collages were largely unknown. A notable exception is the 1978 exhibition at the Gimpel Weitzenhoffer Gallery in New York, which integrated sculptural elements with collage. Yet, as early as the mid-fifties, visitors to the artist's Paris studio could see abstract collaged interior doors, as well as an inner wall later called Hokusai Arch, consisting of Japanese woodcuts.