Tag Archive | Dada

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, Woman, Old Man and Flower

Max Ernst Woman Old Man Flower
Photo By Gail

Max Ernst painted the first state of Woman, Old Man and Flower in 1923, the year after he moved from Cologne to Paris to join the nascent Surrealist group. He subsequently modified elements of this picture. Most astonishingly, he added the mysterious, partially transparent, partially modeled, fan-topped figure in the foreground — presumably the flower referenced in the painting’s title. Even before leaving Germany, Ernst had been thinking about translating the collage and overpainting strategies of his small Dada works on paper into oil on canvas. The results achieved included radical leaps in scale, intensified colors, and what he described to fellow Dadaist Tristan Tzara as “a much insaner effect.”

Photographed as part of the Exhibit, Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, Up Through January 1st, 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art.

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Modern Art Monday: Florine Stettheimer, Portrait of Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Selavy

Portrait of Marcel Duchamp
Photo By Gail

The French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp was a member of artist Florine Stettheimer’s family’s inner circle. He is depicted here in the company of Rrose Selavy, the female alter ego that he invented in 1920. He casually carries out his game of sexual transformation by means of a contraption operated from an armchair. The clock and the chess knight are both Ducahmpian symbols: the one being a reference to the circularity of Dada time; the other an illusions to Duchamp’s prowess at chess. The frame (also by Stettheimer), composed of Duchamp’s monogram in a circle of infinite repetition, wryly comments on his program of artistic self-promotion and his obsession with identity and its ambiguities.

Portrait of Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Selavy (1923) was Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday: Man Ray, Indestructible Object

Indestructible Object
Photo By Gail

Man Ray (1890 – 1976) was a consummate avant-garde artist who often incorporated everyday materials in his work and embraced chance and accident. In this piece, originally created in 1923, and tiled Object to Be Destroyed, Man Ray places a photographic eye on the ticking wand of a metronome to make an object at once mechanical and human, quotidian and bizarre. The use of found objects aligns the work with Dada, while the psychological resonance of the eye points to themes that would become important to Surrealism, officially founded a year later in 1924. Man Ray remade the present version in 1963, six years after the original was destroyed at an exhibition. He wryly re-titled it Indestructible Object to reflect its seemingly indestructible nature.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Man Ray, Obstruction

Man Ray Obstruction
All Photos By Gail

Man Ray (1890 – 1976) worked in a wide variety of media, including photography, painting, and sculpture, often blurring the boundaries between these practices. Obstruction, an assemblage of 63 wooden coat hangers, is an example of the type of artwork Dada artist Marcel Duchamp called a Ready-Made, a term that suggests Man Ray’s appropriation and manipulation of pre-existing, common objects. The sculpture playfully mimics a chandelier, but, as the hangers seemingly divide and multiply, Obstruction quickly evolves into a dense tangle of overlapping forms. Cast shadows serve as distorted, immaterial extensions of its physical presence. Man Ray first created Obstruction in 1920, but the present work belongs to an addition of 15 reproductions that he created in 1961 for an important exhibition of kinetic art.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Man Ray Obstruction

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jean Arp, Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2

Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms
Photo By Gail

Jean Arp, also known as Hans Arp (September 16, 1886 – June 7, 1966) was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as Hans, and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as Jean. Interesting!

Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zürich in 1916. In 1920, as Hans Arp, along with Max Ernst, and the social activist Alfred Grünwald, he set up the Cologne Dada group. However, in 1925 his work also appeared in the first exhibition of the surrealist group at the Galérie Pierre in Paris. Through his investigation of biomorphism (as seen in Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2, 1932, above) and of chance and accident, he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2 by Jean (Hans) Arp is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. View it in Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 12, 5th Floor.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, Napoleon in the Wilderness

Max Ernst Napoleon in the Wilderness
Photo By Gail

Max Ernst (born in Germany on April 2, 1891) was a prolific artist and a primary pioneer of both Dada and Surrealism. Seriously, his life and career are so mind-blowing they almost take too long to talk about. In Ernst’s painting Napoleon in the Wilderness (1941), a semi-nude female figure (representing his mistress at the time, Leonora Carrington) holds a strange, whimsical trumpet while almost encased inside one of several organic rock and coral formations amide a decaying fantasy landscape. Like many of Ernst’s rather eerie landscapes, Napoleon in the Wilderness is loaded with symbolism including the artist’s own sense of loss and grief, and the promise of decay and renewal. It was around the time of this painting that Ernst, who was a bit of a Ladies Man (to put it politely) abandoned Carrington to marry American socialite and art patron, Peggy Guggenheim (known for having an uncle who lent their surname to a number of large Art Museums).

Napoleon in the Wilderness is part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, where it resides on the 4th floor. For anyone interested in learning more about the wildly fascinating life and career of Max Ernst, I recommend the excellent documentary, Max Ernst, which is available through Netflix.