modernism in art

late impressionism through surrealism


readings day 1 (We'll cover Dada over 1-1/2 days, so I've divided the readings up approximatively)

• SH essay, Introduction to Dada

• SH essay, Dada performance

• SH essay, Dada manifesto

• recommended reading:  Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto (primary source)

• SH essay, Dada pataphysics

• SH video, Raoul Hausmann, Spirit of the Age: Mechanical Head

• SH essay, Dada readymades

• SH video, Marcel Duchamp, Fountain

readings day 2 (read some Surrealism as well)

• SH essay, Dada collage

• SH video, Hannah Hoch, Cut with the kitchen knife DADA ...

• SH essay, Dada politics

• SH video, Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare ...

key terms and concepts: absurdism, continuous contradiction, chance, readymade, assisted readymade, pataphysics, collage, social criticism

Dada starts around 1915 in Zurich (Switzerland) and New York City, and quickly spreads to Paris, Berlin, and Cologne. Rather than conventional drawings, paintings and sculptures, the Dadaists tended to produce what would now be called ‘found objects’, collages, assemblages, environments, happenings, and performance art, along with highly unconventional poems, music, plays, films, and cabaret skits.

• What is the underlying philosophy of Dada? What end or purpose were they trying to achieve? In what sense does the phrase 'continuous contradiction' sum up the main strategy for achieving that end? What specific conventions and values are contradicted or undermined in each of the works below?

• What are 'readymades' (and 'assisted readymades')? What conventions and values do they undermine in general?

• Why is collage a perfect medium/technique for Dada? What conventions and values does collage undermine in general?

• What is 'pataphysics' and how is it seen in a number of the works below? What was the general Dada attitude toward science and technology, and why? How does this contradict the attitudes of other, contemporary movements such as Futurism, Léger, Purism, and the Bauhaus?

• Why did many Dadaists embrace chance as a technique of art-making? How does this embrace of chance relate to their overall philosophy in general, and their attitude toward science in specific?

• What specific contemporary social and political situations and events were the Dadaists responding to? How did some of them (especially Berlin Dadaists) use art as a form of social criticism?

Hausmann, Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Age), 1919

Otto Dix, War Cripples, Dada, 1920 (drypoint)

Duchamp, L. H. O. O. Q., 1919

Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-23

Hans Arp, Squares arranged according to the laws of chance, 1917

Man Ray, Gift, 1921

Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife DADA ..., 1919-20