Synopses & Reviews
Born in the midst of World War I, Dada posed a fundamental challenge to established social values and artistic norms. The 1910s and early 20s marked the birth of the illustrated press and radio broadcasting, the commercial cinema, and the industrial assembly line--phenomena that all contributed to shaping this extraordinarily dynamic movement, which had an enormous influence on the art and culture of later decades. Looking at Dada is intended as an accessible introduction to Dada and its times. The book examines some 30 major, representative artworks from each of the principal cities where the movement took hold: Zrich; Berlin, Cologne, and Hannover; Paris; and New York. Largely drawing on the unparalleled collection of Dada artworks in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, it investigates all of the major areas and processes in which the Dada artists worked, including abstraction and figuration; painting, sculpture, printmaking and photography; the readymade, collage and photomontage; as well as poetry, performance and the applied arts. The book's sequences of handsome color plates and accompanying clear discussions focus on major social and artistic questions that contributed to Dada's consistent practice of subverting expectations, including: how Dada fundamentally reshaped our understanding of painting as a -window on the world;- how it both addressed and rewrote traditional histories of portraiture and still life; how, through the photomontage and the rayograph, it expanded our understanding of the artistic potential of photography by exploring its relationship less to sight than to touch; how it reversed the traditionally oppositional relationship between photography and painting; how it deployed chance to protest the inhumane uses to which science and technology were put during World War I and to subvert cherished notions of artistic expressivity, intention and -genius;- how its interest in chance came to play a pivotal role in twentieth-century art history, poetry, performance, graphic design and typography; and how it set off an entire century of questioning not only the role and identity of the artist, but, more broadly, the norms of culture, politics and gender in shaping modern society.