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Entries in Dada (12)


Marcel Janco: Bridging Multiple Genres

Marcel Janco - Composition with Red Arrow - 1918 Plaster and casein on burlap, mounted on cardboard - 19 3/4 x 26 1/2 in. - The Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago, IL (click photo for larger image)Romanian-Israeli artist Marcel Janco (1895-1984) was born in Bucharest. In 1910–14 he exhibited at the salons in Bucharest and moved among modernist artists and poets. In 1916, while studying architecture, he was among the founders of Dada in Zurich. There he participated in the famous evenings at Café Voltaire where he was in charge of the stage and costume design. In the 1920s he was much involved in the Dada movement. He had ties with the Paris branch, participating there in an international exhibition of abstract art, and was one of the founders of the art and literature journal Contimporanul. He eventually drifted away from Dada and moved toward Constructivism, a style or movement in which assorted mechanical objects are combined into abstract mobile structural forms.

In 1940, following the rise of fascism in Romania, he immigrated with his family to Ereẓ Israel. In Israel, Janco participated in many important exhibitions including those of New Horizons and the Venice Biennale.Janco played a major role in the modernization of Israeli Art, importing the latest trends in Constructivism from Romania. Once established he joined local artists in developing a more abstract approach to depictions of the local landscape and also turned his attention to pertinent local themes. Janco's significance for avant-garde Israeli Art continues today, through the still-active artist's colony he established in Ein Hod.


Christian Schad: The Classical Collides with Symbolism

Christian Schad - Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove - 1929 - Oil on canvas - 1200 x 800 mm - Tate Museum - London (click photo for larger image)

German artist Christian Schad (1894-1982) was associated with both the Dada and the New Objectivity movements. Considered as a group, Schad's portraits form an extraordinary record of life in Vienna and Berlin in the years following World War I. The work featured here is a large portrait-orientated oil painting of two funfair performers. It was created in 1929, in Berlin, where Schad lived from 1927 to 1943. It is executed on a plain-weave linen canvas with the paint applied consistently all over. Schad met the subjects in north Berlin, where they appeared together using the bird-related names referenced in the work’s title. As part of their performance, Agosta displayed his upside-down ribcage – a deformity with which he was born – while Rasha, who was from Madagascar, appeared with a large snake wrapped around her. In a 1977 text, Schad claimed that the models were “simple, obliging and, like all performers, dependable and punctual. They told me much about their lives that was much more interesting than what I would have been told at a five o’clock tea”. 


André Masson: Exquisite Forms

André Masson - Ibdès de Aragon - 1935 - Oil on canvas - 743 x 1660 x 54 mm - Tate Gallery, London (click photo for larger image)André Masson (1896-1987) was a French painter, sculptor, illustrator, designer and writer. He began the study of art at age eleven.

Masson initially experimented with Cubism but later became more heavily involved with Surrealism. He embraced the idea of automatic drawing, which was a form of spontaneous composition intended to express impulses and images arising directly from the unconscious.  Eventually, however, he found that practice too restrictive. “A natural draftsman, he used sinuous, expressive lines to delineate biomorphic forms that border on the totally abstract. 

Masson made a series of paintings of Spanish landscapes from 1934 to 1936, when he was living in Catalonia, including the one featured here, of Ibdes, a village in Aragon.


Jean Arp: Making Something from Something…

Jean Arp - Torso, Navel, Mustache-Flower - 1930 - Oil on wood relief - 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 x 1 1/2 in. (80 x 100 x 3.8 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (click photo for larger image)German-French artist Jean Arp (also known as Hans Arp 1886-1966) could turn anything into a work of art—and that’s exactly what he did!

Although his work is non-representational, it is all rooted in nature and very organic in form. He was also one of the first artists to let chance and randomness become part of his work.

Arp is best known for his multilayered, painted wood reliefs. By the time Arp created the work featured here, he had already perfected his assemblage technique: he drew designs on cardboard templates and had a carpenter execute them in wood. 

Arp was born in Alsace and studied at the Strasbourg School of Arts and Crafts, at Weimar (1905-7) and the Academie Julian, Paris (1908).  In 1912 he went to Munich where he knew Kandinsky and exhibited semi-figurative drawings at the second Blaue Reiter exhibition in 1912. In 1913 he exhibited with the Expressionists at the first Hebrstsalon (Autumn Salon) in Berlin. Aware of the developments within the French avant-garde through his contacts with such figures as Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Robert Delaunay, Arp exhibited his first abstracts and paper cutouts in Zurich in 1915, and began making shallow wooden reliefs and compositions of string nailed to canvas. In 1916 he was a founding member of Dada in Zurich, and he participated in the Berlin Dada exhibition of 1920. Arp is also associated with the Surrealist movement.


Hannah Höch: Dealing Early with Feminist Issues 

Hannah Höch - Dada Puppen (Dada Dolls) - 1916 - Fabric, yarn, thread, board, and beads - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (click photo for larger image)German artist, Hannah Höch (1889-1978) was the only woman associated with the Berlin Dada group. She was best known for her provocative photomontage compositions, which explore Weimar-era perceptions of gender and ethnic differences. But Höch was also particularly interested in the representation of women as dolls, mannequins, and puppets—in essence, products for mass consumption. During her Dada period, she constructed and exhibited stuffed dolls that bore exaggerated and abstract features, but were clearly identifiable as female.

In 1920, the Dada group held the First International Dada Fair, which took on the traditional format of an art salon. But the walls of the site were plastered with posters and photomontages. Höch was allowed to participate only after her fellow artist and lover—Raoul Hausmann (also featured on this site)—threatened to withdraw his own work from the exhibition if she was kept out of it.

In the work featured here, these small-scale sculptural works suggest her awareness of Dada ideas more generally from its inception in 1916 in Zurich. She was likely influenced by writer Hugo Ball, the Zurich-based founder of Dada, given Höch's doll costumes' resemblance to the geometric forms of Ball's own costume worn in a seminal Dada performance at the Swiss nightclub Cabaret Voltaire.”

In 1934 Höch was pinpointed as a “cultural Bolshevist” by the Nazis. In order to continue to make art during World War II, she retreated to a cottage in Heiligensee, on the outskirts of Berlin, where she remained incognito until it was safe to resurface.