Posts tagged ‘DADA’
June 16, 2016  |  Collection & Exhibitions
MoMA Teens x Dadaglobe Reconstructed
Jo-Anne (far left) and the 2016 Digital Advisory Board

Jo-Anne (far left) and the 2016 Digital Advisory Board

Last fall I was invited back to MoMA for another unique opportunity to work with the Department of Education’s Teen Programs. Initially, I was shocked—after doing an In the Making class in the summer of 2014 and being part of the incredible Cross Museum Collective the following year, I figured I had reached the apex of my involvement here. But of course MoMA, in all its mystifying generosity, had something else to offer: a position on the Digital Advisory Board. I knew little about what I would be doing, but the chance to be part of MoMA Teens again was something I couldn’t resist. I eagerly accepted. Arriving at the first meeting, I was delighted to see the familiar faces of my friends from the past two years, and together we all jumped down the rabbit hole.

We learned we’d be taking over all of MoMA Teens’ social media pages, posting content to Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook to our heart’s content. It was exciting and new, being able to work on such a large platform and essentially represent the “Artistic Teen of the Modern Age,” and I was ecstatic. Yet, as the weeks carried on, there was something more hinted at by our MoMA leaders Calder and Ali, something that, as far as the history of the Digital Advisory Board went, hadn’t been done before. And then, we met Samantha Friedman, an assistant curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, who introduced us to Dadaglobe.

Behind the scenes of the DAB x Samantha Friedman interview

Behind the scenes of the DAB x Samantha Friedman interview

Teens in balloons, waiting to be filmed for the video intro...

Teens in balloons, waiting to be filmed for the video intro…

Dadaglobe, in the simplest terms, was manqué: something that could have been, but never was. A scattered relic lost essentially forever in time, Dadaglobe was a failed attempt in 1921 to bring together the movement of Dada, an operation that was already global and disjointed, into a published anthology. The aim, however, was not to formalize and sanction Dada into concrete terms, but to coalesce and embody, to provide a glimpse of an explosive campaign at its peak. Its mastermind and architect was Tristan Tzara, a well-known poet and a co-founder of Dada. Through a series of solicitation letters, he garnered the attention of artists from 10 countries, instructing them to carry out four different requests: 1) “send a clear photo of your head (not body), which you can alter freely, although it should retain clarity” 2) send “2 or 3 photos of your works,” 3) send “3 or 4 black-and-white drawings. . . . one drawing can be colorful, but containing no more than 2 to 3 colors,” and 4) if not sending a drawing, then “design a book page with or without text.”

The responses were nothing short of extraordinary. Drawings, collages, and photographs poured in, all ranging from straightforward executions of the instructions to complete defiance (it was Dada, after all). Samantha told us of one self-portrait sent by Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg (in the guise of his alter ego I.K. Bonset), who instead of sending a distinct photograph of his face, sent an image of the back of his head, with an adorning halo of text reading Je suis contre tout et tous—”I am against everything and everyone.” It was utterly and entirely Dada, and I completely fell in love. Learning of Dadaglobe for the first time, discovering this trove of works belonging to a movement I was already thoroughly enamored with, made me feel like a kid in a candy store with an empty stomach and an endless budget. Putting all my childlike glee aside, I knew that we weren’t given a presentation of Dadaglobe simply because it was a neat piece of lost art history; our new roles as Digital Advisory Board members would finally be set in motion.

As MoMA prepared to open its exhibition Dadaglobe Reconstructed on June 12, which reunites over 100 works made for the publication, we discovered that those of us on the Digital Advisory Board would be working together to construct our own homage to Dadaglobe. Following Tzara’s original instructions, we were asked to create works of art in the unbridled spirit of Dada to be published in conjunction with the exhibition. It was exciting news, no doubt, but presented a challenge. How could we adapt and recreate something that was born and functioned to reject the specific principles of a society torn apart by war, under circumstances that no longer existed today? How could we faithfully translate the temperament of Dada to reflect the 21st century? There were no clear answers, but we approached it the only way we could: head on.

LO2 copy

Jo-Anne’s page layout

We began with layouts for book pages. Naturally, there were no rules to what or how we could make, only to create how we saw fit. I have to admit I struggled at first; my mind was saturated with ideas and images, but materializing them with the clever subtleties that seemed to come naturally to the Dadaists was something I thought I wasn’t capable of. Looking back, I can say it never really mattered anyways. I wanted to introduce the tangible social elements of living in 2016, and bring attention to them through mockery and jest. For one collage, I decided to take a picture of Donald Trump with his wife, cover her with a picture of Hillary Clinton to pose them as a rather stylish couple, and replace their lower halves with poised, feminine legs. My motivation was not so much to demean or emasculate either presidential candidate, but really because the idea made me laugh. I tend to think that laughter is the best way to cope with the absurd current events of our time.

Jo-Anne's Dadaglobe-inspired self portrait

Jo-Anne’s Dadaglobe-inspired self portrait

Self-portraits were next. There was lots of inspiration to draw from concerning the actual submissions for Dadaglobe: van Doesburg and the unapologetically defiant back of his head, artists like Johannes Theodor Baargeld and Max Ernst who pasted their own faces onto and next to other cut-out images, or Francis Picabia, who, for one part of his submission, simply signed his name on a piece of paper. I decided to keep my face unobscured, however. Under normal circumstances, the concept of my face being mass printed would have horrified me, but I saw the call for self-portraits as something more than a vehicle for identification. I wanted to recontextualize myself in a space where I could see myself objectively, as a collection of lines and arrangements of color rather than a person onto which judgements and prejudice could be cast.

A drawing by Jo-Anne, inspired by both Dadaglobe as well as Duchamp's "Bicycle Wheel"

A drawing by Jo-Anne, inspired by both Dadaglobe as well as Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel

We then moved onto original drawings, for which we limited ourselves to traditional dip pens and black ink. There was something kind of wholly organic about creating the drawings, composing scenes only through stretching black lines and blocks of ink. I think all of us approached the drawings with a sense of assured confidence and lack of restraint; we simply let our hands speak for us. The works we made during that period we all distinctly different, yet distinctly ours.

An image of an "artwork" that never existed

An image of an “artwork” that never existed

The only thing left was to create images of artworks, and here we were truly inspired by how playful the Dadaglobe artists were. The goal, it seemed, was not to capture an artwork accurately with a camera, but to explore how the photographic process and reproduction could manipulate how drawings, collages, or random objects were perceived. For example, one piece I especially enjoyed was a submission by Man Ray, who photographed a random and essentially meaningless concrete and wood structure in an empty lot, and called it La plus belle sculpture d’Amérique—the most beautiful sculpture in America. Using collage for this witty, almost mischievous purpose was a delight. Unlike our layouts for book pages, there wasn’t a particular or single message to convey, therefore we felt a kind of feeling of triumph in creating new works of art out of arbitrary images and fabricating meaning out of “nothing.”

But of course, it had to end. We had made dozens of Dada-esque works, consumed probably several pantry’s worth of snacks, and managed to bring what seemed like an impossible task into an awesome reality. It was hard, but incredibly rewarding work that allowed us to genuinely experience and partake in a small sliver of the art world. Dadaglobe Reconstructed is now open to the public, and for the first time the world will get to see Dada as the Dadaists sought to represent it.

I want to end on a quote expressed by Hugo Ball, a founding member of Dada: “For us, art is not an end in itself, but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.” As the Digital Advisory Board, our objective was not to merely recreate Dadaglobe art for contemporary times, but to utilize the blunt, untainted lens of Dada to perceive those times—and perhaps even criticize them. For it seems as long as the Earth continues to turn, the timeless doctrine of Dada will always endure, illuminating our lives.

Dadaglobe Reconstructed is on view now through September 18, 2016. More info HERE. Special thanks to Jo-Anne Naarendorp and all of the 2016 Digital Advisory Board members: Jocelyn Aldaz, Ashley Aviles, Kevin Cruz, Cara Hernandez, Anatola Pabst, Oksana Pligina, and Yvonne Zagzag. Extra special thanks to Eva Kozanecka, Ali Santana, and Samantha Friedman. Follow @momateens on Instagram for more teen-created content.

January 19, 2016  |  Artists
Celebrating Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s 127th Birthday
Sophie Taeuber-Arp with Dada Head. 1920. Photo: Nic Aluf. Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin/Rolandswerth

Sophie Taeuber-Arp with Dada Head. 1920. Photo: Nic Aluf. Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin/Rolandswerth

Today is the 127th birthday of Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889–1943). In celebration of this beloved artist, whose face graces Switzerland’s 50 franc bill, Google invited MoMA to create a digital exhibition. We’ve included some beautifully crisp high-resolution images of her art—from one of her Dada Heads to paintings from the 1930s—alongside archival photos and views from recent exhibitions.

October 1, 2014  |  Learning and Engagement
Mind Games: In Search of Artistic Inspiration
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). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

How do artists seek, find, or create inspiration?

As an artist/educator, I often find myself gathering inspiration for my own work from my experiences teaching in the galleries. Recently I have been thinking a lot about the nature of collaboration, and looking back to art historical examples to inform my own thinking.

Thinking back, I realized that the exhibition Dada at MoMA in 2006 was one of the first times this idea clicked for me. I remember being intrigued by how many of the exercises these artists were playing with over 100 years ago are still so relevant to the kind of teaching experiences I develop today. And after putting those techniques to use in my classes, I was also struck by how inspired I was as an adult to replicate and try out some of those same devices that had brought artists like Jean Arp, Man Ray, and Duchamp such a wealth of creative potential. I was impressed by how human these games made these distant “Artist” figures seem; by humanizing them their work became easier to understand and allowed me to layer some of their creative thinking and processes onto my own.

In my own work, I find it most inspiring to create constraints—mostly with materials, some self-imposed, some borne out of necessity —and work within them. How can I use what I have at hand, or can find for cheap, to realize a vision? Or when I find myself without vision, sometimes just playing with materials and making something– anything– in the studio can generate an exciting idea that then grows into larger concept and artwork later on.

A work in progress by the author

A work in progress by the author made in collaboration on with Alison Kuo, based solely on random materials in the studio and the product of an afternoon of experimenting/messing around


When I was asked to come up with a Studio Immersion course for MoMA, I knew I wanted to explore these ideas with other adults, and experiment with how these forced collaborations, set criteria, and new materials might create an interesting dynamic within the class and inspire participants to expand their own practice outside the classroom. For one example, I love the Niki de Saint Phalle piece that was recently on view, Shooting Painting American Embassy (1961)—which the artist created by arranging packets of paint and food on a canvas, covering them with layers of plaster, and then asking collaborators to shoot at the canvas and release the paint—and that work prompted me to research other forms of playful, performative processes artists before and after her have employed.

Oscar Domínguez. Untitled. 1936–37. Decalcomania (gouache transfer) on paper, 6 1/16 x 8 5/8" (15.4 x 21.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection. © 2014 Oscar Domínguez/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Oscar Domínguez. Untitled. 1936–37. Decalcomania (gouache transfer) on paper, 6 1/16 x 8 5/8″ (15.4 x 21.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection. © 2014 Oscar Domínguez/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

The Dadaists and Surrealists fit in exactly with this theme of playful processes. Of course I knew about exquisite corpse drawings and automatic poetry, but, as I researched more, I was pleasantly surprised by the range of materials and techniques they implemented. Paint-based techniques were also used, such as Bulletism—a technique where ink is shot at a blank piece of paper and the artist then develops images based on the marks left behind. I can’t wait to get some willing experimenters involved with this!

This is just one example of many historical processes I’ve dug up for this course, and a few that I’ve created for us to play around with. So for those of you who might be thinking, “I’m not an artist,” or “I can’t draw,” or any other number of doubting thoughts, Mind Games will give you the chance to think like a Surrealist and let your subconscious be your guide. Break some rules and come draw outside the lines with me!

Class starts October 22. For more information, please visit

March 10, 2011  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Adam Pendleton and Mark Manders: Looking at Language in Two Recent Acquisitions

Mark Manders. Fox/Mouse/Belt. 1992. Painted bronze, belt. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of the artist

As a student of art history, one of my favorite parts of exams was the slide comparison, looking at two works of art in relation to each other. Yes, perhaps it is a bit nerdy of me to admit, but what I found fascinating about this exercise was that it opened up a range of possible connections between the works that I might not normally explore.

February 17, 2010  |  Behind the Scenes
MoMA Offsite: The Tricks of Today are the Truths of Tomorrow

From left: Man Ray. Gift. c. 1958 (replica of 1921 original). Painted flatiron with row of thirteen tacks, heads glued to bottom. The Museum of Modern Art. James Thrall Soby Fund. Man Ray. Untitled. 1908. Ink and pencil on paper. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Silvia Pizitz. Both works © 2010 Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris

In my last MoMA Offsite (which, as it happens, was also the first-ever MoMA Offsite), I set the agenda for this column, which is to reveal and discuss MoMA collection works on loan to other institutions. I chose to explore both works that are infrequently on view here at Fifty-third Street as well as those that are regular residents in our galleries, assuming that each entry would take me to different artists from different time periods, featured in different shows in different parts of the world. But in the infancy of this mission I am already going to break the pattern by speaking exclusively this week about one artist and one show, just up the road: Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention, on view at The Jewish Museum through March 14.