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