Published: July 5, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — “Dadaglobe Reconstructed,” on view at the Museum of Modern Art through September 18, reunites more than 100 works by 40-plus artists that were submitted to Tristan Tzara for his planned but unrealized 1921 anthology Dadaglobe.
In Paris in late 1920, Tzara, a poet and a co-founder of Dada, drew up a proposal for an ambitious anthology to document the movement’s artistic and literary production. Along with artist Francis Picabia, Tzara sent solicitation letters to 50 artists and writers in ten countries, requesting four categories of artworks — photographic self-portraits, photographs of artworks, original drawings and designs for book pages — along with prose, poetry or other verbal “inventions.” While some artists submitted existing works, many created new ones for the volume, making Dadaglobe one of the period’s most generative catalysts for the production of new Dada works. Due to financial and interpersonal difficulties, Dadaglobe was never realized, and while many of the works submitted are well-known today, their origin in this project has long been forgotten.
The result of six years of intensive archival research by Dada scholar Adrian Sudhalter that began with her examination of works in MoMA’s collection, “Dadaglobe Reconstructed” resituates iconic works of Dada in the original circumstances of their making. Tzara retained most of the contributions to Dadaglobe during his lifetime, but following his death in 1963 they were dispersed in public and private collections worldwide.
This exhibition reunites for the first time the photographs, drawings, photomontages, collages and manuscripts that were sent to Tzara through the mail for reproduction on Dadaglobe’s pages, along with related archival material. It explores how artists recognized the potential of artwork in reproduction as a new artistic field, the cross-disciplinarily of their efforts, and their creation of works in dialogue with one another despite geopolitical boundaries, and demonstrates the resonance of those ideas today.
The exhibition is organized by Kunsthaus Zürich in collaboration with MoMA, with the special participation of the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet. It is organized at MoMA by Adrian Sudhalter, guest curator, and Samantha Friedman, assistant curator, department of drawings and prints.
The exhibition is organized according to the four categories of works requested by Tzara. Of these categories, the prompt for self-portraits proved to be particularly generative for the creation of new works. “Please send a clear photo of your head (not body),” the invitation read, “you can alter it freely, but it should retain clarity.” While some contributors submitted straightforward headshots, others took Tzara up on his challenge to “alter” one’s photo “freely,” presenting cut-and-pasted, overdrawn or otherwise manipulated portraits.
Artists posed themselves amid a range of milieus, from the intimate space of the studio to the dense stage of a cityscape, measured themselves in relation to artistic forebears, blurred traditional gender boundaries and embraced myriad alter egos. Some even defied Tzara’s call for “clarity,” radically undermining the genre of portraiture by obscuring their faces or excising them altogether. Sophie Taeuber staged a highly constructed self-portrait that was shot by Zurich studio photographer Nic Aluf. In this well-known “Photograph of Sophie Taeuber with her Dada Head,” 1920, which was submitted to Tzara, her face is half-concealed by her polychrome, turned wood sculpture “Dada Head,” 1920.
That photograph is intimately related to another she submitted in the category “photographs of artworks” — the image of her painting “Dada Head (flat),” 1920, which compressed the sculpture onto the plane of the canvas. All four of these works — the two photographs, the sculpture and the painting — are brought together in the exhibition.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog (Kunsthaus Zürich and Scheidegger & Spiess, $59) edited by Adrian Sudhalter, with a preface by renowned Dada scholar Michel Sanouillet.
MoMA is at 11 West 53rd Street. For general information, www.moma.org or 212-708-9431.
April 26, 2022
July 27, 2021
July 20, 2021
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm