Dada

Jean Arp (Hans Arp)
(French, born Germany (Alsace), 1886-1966)
Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance
c. 1916-17

Jean (Hans) Arp. Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Laws of Chance). 1916–17

Torn-and-pasted paper and colored paper on colored paper, 19 1/8 x 13 5/8" (48.5 x 34.6 cm). Purchase. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

NARRATOR: The Dadaists embraced abstraction as a radical new direction in modern art. This collage by Hans Arp was a deliberate protest against any subjective expression. The structure of the grid offered one way of limiting an artist’s judgment; chance provided another. Curator Leah Dickerman:

CURATOR, LEAH DICKERMAN: The Dadaists were very skeptical about human judgment. They thought it implicated them in the values that had brought the culture to war. Arp claimed that in making this work he tore pieces of paper and allowed them to fall where they may, creating a composition that was based more on chance than on his conscious control.”

NARRATOR: Curator, Anne Umland

CURATOR, ANNE UMLAND: In some of the Arp collages, you can see glue traces which show that he shifted the positions of the elements. So it’s best to think of them as ‘assisted chance.’ Dada is always introducing contradictions within the singular work of art. It's always asking you to hold two or three or more opposing ideas in mind at the same time.”

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