Published: September 25, 2012
Since 1909, major artists from nearly every art movement have co-opted, mimicked, defused, undermined, memorialized and rewritten newspapers. “Shock of the News” at the National Gallery of Art examines the myriad manifestations of the “newspaper phenomenon” through 65 collages, paintings, drawings, sculptures, artists’ newspapers, prints and photographs by European and American artists, from F. T. Marinetti and Pablo Picasso to the Guerrilla Girls and Robert Gober.
The exhibition, which remains on view to January 27, also includes the large-scale multimedia installation “To Mallarmé,” 2003, by Mario Merz. With two exceptions, the 60 artists in the exhibition will each be represented by one exemplary work.
“Artists pursuing various agendas have transformed the disposable daily paper into compelling works of art. ‘Shock of the News’ promises to shape our understanding of modern artists’ responses to the newspaper,” said Earl A. Powell III, National Gallery of Art director. “Although a handful of recent exhibitions have explored the topic, this is the first to offer a systematic examination of the newspaper as both a material and subject in modern and contemporary art over the course of a century.”
Arranged chronologically, “Shock of the News” traces the development of the newspaper phenomenon from 1909 to 2009 and demonstrates its ability to adapt to and shift with the times while remaining vital to the present.
On February 20, 1909, Marinetti’s futurist manifesto appeared on the front page of Le Figaro , and soon after this Picasso included a fragment of real newspaper into the collage “Guitar, Sheet Music, and Glass,” 1912, widely considered the first self-consciously modern work of art to incorporate newspaper. While the aims of Marinetti and Picasso were poles apart, their seminal efforts marked the beginning of a trend: visual artists began to think about the newspaper more broadly †as a means of political critique, a collection of ready-made news to appropriate and manipulate, a source of language and images, a typographical grab bag and more.
The exhibition opens with the two key pieces by Marinetti and Picasso. Other works in this room attest to how quickly the trend spread, encompassing both Europe and the United States. These include works by leading artists from early avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Futurism, and Dada, such as a Cubist still life by Juan Gris, a militant work by the futurist Carlo Carrà and an early Dada collage by Man Ray.
Also on view will be a photomontage by Hannah Höch, “Von Oben (From Above),” 1926, Arthur Dove’s renowned “The Critic,” 1925, and John Heartfield’s scornful photomontage, reproduced in a Berlin illustrated newspaper in 1930, showing a lumpish man with his head wrapped in pages from Vorwärts , the Social Democratic Party’s official paper, and Tempo , a mass-market tabloid. Heartfield’s criticism was targeted both at the party and the press, and his message †spelled out in a boldface caption †could not have been more explicit: “Whoever reads bourgeois newspapers goes blind and deaf.”
Emory Douglas’s “All Power to the People,” 1969, depicts a young boy hawking Black Panther newspapers. Laurie Anderson literally wove together front pages of The New York Times and China Times in 1976, calling attention to Sino-American relations. This room also features outstanding artists’ newspapers, including Salvador Dalí’s “Dali News,” 1945, a newspaper with items devoted entirely to Dalí, and Yves Klein’s Dimanche †Le journal d’un seul jour (Sunday †The newspaper for a single day), 1960.
The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art and was conceived by Judith Brodie, curator and head of the department of modern prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Art.
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW. For more information, 202-737-4215, (TDD) 202-842-6176 or www.nga.gov .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm