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April 25, 2006

Ce N'est Pas un Exhibite

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is hosting the largest Dada exhibition ever held in the United States. The show is open through to May 7.

Dada features painting, sculpture, photography, film, collage, and readymades emerging in six cities: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, and Paris. The exhibition presents many of the most influential figures in the history of modernism, as well as others less known, including Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber, Hans Richter, Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp.

The 20th-century leaves much to be desired in its fine arts. From the CIA funded abstract expressionist bubble market to Andy Warhol's closet curios, fine art has strayed ever further from the representational into the conceptual. This would be fine if, with a few notable exceptions, art had not become ever more boring. With the invention of photography the portrait and landscape painting markets evaporated. It was either concept art or unemployment for the paint and paintbrush set. Certainly Dada is to blame at least as much as Impressionism for this not terribly satisfying century-long answer to technological change. That said, it is profoundly satisfying to learn Marcel Duchamp's readymade urinal Fountain can still get a rise from a writer at the National Review.

O Moon of Alabama Update: Washington-based Flea-readers should beg, borrow or steal to hear Ute Lemper perform in a cabaret performance for Dada on April 29. I will be jealous.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at April 25, 2006 08:39 AM

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