Thursday, 2 October 2008

Futurism in Paris

Le Futurisme à Paris
Une avant-garde explosive
Centre Georges Pompidou
October 15, 2008 - January 26, 2009
The exhibition will travel to Rome and London
Press Release [pdf]

Catalogue: Le Futurisme à Paris: Une avant-garde explosive / ed. by Didier Ottinger (Forthcoming 2008)
ISBN 9782844263599

To mark the centenary of the publication of the Futurist Manifesto of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti on the front page of the French newspaper Le Figaro on 20 February 1909, the Centre Pompidou presents 'Le Futurisme à Paris – une avant-garde explosive'.

Futurism, the first avant-garde movement of the 20th century, celebrated technical progress, the energy of crowds, and the hectic activity of modern cities. In place of the balance and stability inherited from classical models, it wished to substitute modern vigorousness, dynamism and speed that disintegrate forms.

The Centre Pompidou has made the re-interpretation of the principal movements in the history of art in the 20th century one of the key directions of its new strategy for temporary exhibitions. In this framework, the exhibition's ambition is to re-assess the place and the status of Futurism, a fundamental source of modern art, and to examine its impact on the French avant-garde, Cubism, inviting viewers to make a fresh analysis of the relations between these two movements through more than 200 works and documents.

All the Futurist painters, as well as Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Félix Del Marle, Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, Frantisek Kupka, Fernand Léger, Kasimir Malévitch, Jean Metzinger, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso and Ardengo Soffici are the protagonists of this dialogue whose echo was international in scope, as Futurist concepts became a source of inspiration for numerous artists, from London to Moscow. Decidedly optimistic about the future, Futurism invented a new relationship between man and the modern world based on unconditional faith in mankind's prospects. By focusing on the Futurist adventure, the Centre Pompidou is realizing its primary ambition: to show how the creative vision of artists shapes the thinking, action and perception of each epoch.

Monday, 2 June 2008


The Museum of Modern Art, New York NY
May 21–July 28, 2008
The exhibition was organized by Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist
More about the exhibition.

To coincide with the launch of the Museum's ambitious publication Dada in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, the ninth volume of MoMA's Studies in Modern Art series, this exhibition provides an overview of the Museum's long and rich history of collecting, documenting, interpreting, and exhibiting works of the Dada era. This display of original documents, letters, floor plans, installation photographs, and oral history commentary highlights landmark exhibitions at MoMA; addresses significant Dada acquisitions, key donors, and innovative film programs and scholarship at the Museum throughout the years; and documents the evolution of the installation of Dada works in the Museum's collection.

Dada in the Collection features some seventy works in various mediums—including books, collages, drawings, films, paintings, and reliefs—presented in large-scale reproductions and accompanied by in depth, object-focused entries by an interdepartmental group of the Museum's curators.
Catalyzed by the major Dada exhibition that appeared in 2005 and 2006 in Paris and Washington, D.C. and at MoMA, the book benefits from new scholarship generated by the extraordinary opportunity the exhibitions created for an international community of scholars to examine the Museum's objects beside those on loan from other institutions. This is the ninth volume of Studies in Modern Art, the Museum's publication series devoted to scholarly research on its collection. Includes 242 illustrations.

Dada in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art
Edited by Anne Umland and Adrian Sudhalter, with Scott Gerson
ISBN 9780870706684
Published in 2008
Pages 352.

Surrealism and Situtationism

Surréalistes et situationnistes, vies parallèles
"Histoire et documents"
Jérôme Duwa. Préface de Christophe Bourseiller
Editions Dilecta : Paris 2008
237 pp.

André Breton and Guy Debord never met. It seems indeed that both were mutually exclusive, so to the sense that Breton and surrealism were said to belong to the past, which World War II had just erased, so that everything had to start from scratch again. But such ahasty judgment on surrealism has to be reconsidered in a spirit which refuses to settle old scores. Was the reason, then, a fundamental divergence or a profound, secret likeness hidden behind superficial rivalry? A detailed history of the up and down relationships between the Paris and Brussels surrealists on the one hand, and Guy Debord and the Situationnists on the other, remained to be written so as to understand one of the mainsprings of the construction of the Situationnist identity. This essay, which includes an anthology of declarations and pamphlets,a dozen illustrations and texts by Jean-Louis Bédouin, André Breton, Claude Courtot, Adrien Dax, Guy Debord, Tom Gutt, Simon Hantaï, Gérard Legrand, Marcel Mariën, Benjamin Péret, José Pierre, Jean Schuster, Jan Strijbosch, Raoul Vaneigem and Joseph Wolman, helps follow the tumultuous course of those parallel lives.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Breaking the Rules

The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde 1900 - 1937
British Library, London
9 November 2007 - 30 March 2008

Mainly through the medium of print, 'Breaking the Rules' throws new light on Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Surrealism and other movements; on the artists who changed the face of modern culture for ever; and on the cities that experienced their work, from Brussels to Budapest, Vienna to Vitebsk.

Star items include Marinetti's futurist experiment with words, type and visual text, Zang Tumb Tuum; the Burliuk Brothers' Tango with Cows; and the notebooks and corrected proofs of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.

In addition to browsing books, manifestos, flyers, posters and even album covers, you can see remarkable films and listen to rare historic recordings.

The exhibition came quite late to my attention. I visited London this weekend and found the announcement in a bookshop. If you have the opportunity to see it: do it! It is worth while.

A fine catalogue is available.

The exhibition (and catalogue) is reviewed by Antoine Capet for The Art Tribune (March 2008) and by Mick Herron for Bookdealer No. 1790 (March 2008).

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia

The Moment Art Changed for Ever
21 February – 26 May 2008
Tate Modern, London

Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia were at the cutting edge of art in the first half of the twentieth century, and made a lasting impression on modern and contemporary art. Duchamp invented the concept of the ‘readymade’: presenting an everyday object as an artwork, Man Ray pioneered avant-garde photographic and film techniques and Picabia’s use of kitsch, popular or low-brow imagery in his paintings undermined artistic conventions.

Their shared outlook on life and art, with a taste for jokes, irony and the erotic, forged a friendship that provided support and inspiration. At the heart of the Dada movement and moving in the same artistic circles, they discussed ideas and collaborated, echoing and responding to each other’s works. Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia explores their affinities and parallels, uncovering a shared approach to questioning the nature of art.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Progressive Cologne 1920-33

Progressive Cologne 1920-33
Museum Ludwig Cologne : March 15 - June 15, 2008

Over thirty years have passed since the Cologne Progressives were last the subject of a large-scale exhibition. Based in Cologne, the loosely organized artistic circle rejected the notion that art stand in the service of radical politics. Instead, they sought a new and unique formal language re-shaped by class consciousness. The end of the Cologne Progressives coincided with the end of the Weimar Republic. During the Nazi period their art was declared "degenerate."

The Museum Ludwig introduces a new generation to the art of the Cologne Progressives. With an eye to the leftist political aims of the group, the exhibition is, crucially, an examination of their artistic practice. Critical of the contemporaneous Neue Sachlichkeit, the group looked to modern impulses from France, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union. By focusing on three core members, Franz Wilhelm Seiwert, Heinrich Hoerle and Gerd Arntz, the exhibition will reveal the group’s shared project as never before.

In addition to works from the collection of the Museum Ludwig, over forty paintings and seventy works on paper from an international array of museums and private collections will be on view - some for the very first time. Original issues of their programmatic journal a bis z, as well as key catalogs and documents from the 1920s and 1930s, will point to the group’s motives and their resonance in Germany and beyond.

A Symposium 'Form & Gesellschaft' on 4-5 April 2008 will accompany the exhibition.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Picabia and Paris Dada

The Artwork Caught by the Tail
Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris
George Baker
MIT Press, Cambridge MA
October 2007
472 pp., 122 illus.
ISBN-10: 0-262-02618-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-02618-5
Page of the Publisher.

The artist Francis Picabia--notorious dandy, bon vivant, painter, poet, filmmaker, and polemicist--has emerged as the Dadaist with postmodern appeal, and one of the most enigmatic forces behind the enigma that was Dada. In this first book in English to focus on Picabia's work in Paris during the Dada years, art historian and critic George Baker reimagines Dada through Picabia's eyes.

Such reimagining involves a new account of the readymade--Marcel Duchamp's anti-art invention, which opened fine art to mass culture and the commodity. But in Picabia's hands, Baker argues, the Dada readymade aimed to reinvent art rather than destroy it. Picabia's readymade opened art not just to the commodity, but to the larger world from which the commodity stems: the fluid sea of capital and money that transforms all objects and experiences in its wake. The book thus tells the story of a set of newly transformed artistic practices, claiming them for art history--and naming them--for the first time: Dada Drawing, Dada Painting, Dada Photography, Dada Abstraction, Dada Cinema, Dada Montage. Along the way, Baker describes a series of nearly forgotten objects and events, from the almost lunatic range of the Paris Dada "manifestations" to Picabia's polemical writings; from a lost work by Picabia in the form of a hole (called, suggestively, The Young Girl ) to his "painting" Cacodylic Eye, covered in autographs by luminaries ranging from Ezra Pound to Fatty Arbuckle.

Baker ends with readymades in prose: a vast interweaving of citations and quotations that converge to create a heated conversation among Picabia, André Breton, Tristan Tzara, James Joyce, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and others. Art history has never looked like this before. But then again, Dada has never looked like art history.

Reviewed by Peter Read for Times Online.

Kurt Schwitters and the Avant-Garde

Symposium 2007
Kurt Schwitters und die Avantgarde

Proceedings presented at the symposium held on June 29 through July 1, 2007 at the Sprengel Museum Hannover:

  1. Neue Kunst – Kunstismen – Merzgebiete, Hubert van den Berg
  2. Der Merzbau im Kontext des Architektonischen, Hanne Bergius
  3. Kurt Schwitters und die Mystik, Götz-Lothar Darsow
  4. Die „Kathedrale“ im Werk von Kurt Schwitters, Curt Germundson
  5. Cicero, the Roman Hitler, Karin Orchard
  6. Künstlerinnen im Umfeld von Kurt Schwitter, Isabel Schulz
  7. Kurt Schwitters and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Adrian Sudhalter
  8. Der unzeitgemässe Schwitters, Beat Wyss

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Hannah Höch – All Beginnings are DADA!

Hannah Höch – All Beginnings are DADA!
Museum Tinguely, Basel
January 16 through May 4, 2008

On the site of the museum: press releases in English, French and German and Pressphotos

The Museum Tinguely presents the first extensive survey in Switzerland dedicated to Hannah Höch (1889-1978), the sole woman member of the group Dada Berlin. The exhibition covers the period from her early Dada years during and immediately following the First World War through the 1920s, a fertile phase in her career during which Höch was in contact with numerous important avant-garde artists such as Kurt Schwitters, Hans Arp, Theo van Doesburg. She collaborated in part with them, producing masterly collages, profound yet ironical. During the 1930s and ‘40s, she worked in total retirement and secrecy – and her works contain a cryptic criticism of the National Socialist regime. Her late works, less known, in which she appears to anticipate Pop Art by her themes and colours, were her reaction to new scientific discoveries of the day. To close the exhibition, a section will be dedicated to Höch’s garden – a recurrent theme throughout the artist’s oeuvre.

The exhibition was conceived in close collaboration with the Berlinische Galerie, seat of the Hannah Höch archives; it is organised in a chronological order and divided into five sections, opening with Höch’s large-scale photo-collage 'Lebensbild' that the artist created in 1972/1973 so to speak as a sort of visual autobiography. The collage harks back to numerous important works that the visitor can encounter throughout the exhibition.

See also Hannah Höch, June 2007.