27 March 2006

Art is dead. All is Dada.

We finally hauled our bodies down to the Smithsonian for the National Gallery's Dada exhibit.

Rumor has it the presentation here at the NGA is not quite as "dada" as it was when the collection toured Europe recently. The Smithsonian opted for the more orderly geographic approach. One meanders from Zurich to Berlin, then on to Hannover, Cologne, NYC, and Paris, with many of the explosive artifacts of that movement resting in antiseptic cages and hung from the neck against the glare of halogens...

Still, it was a pleasure to see these things in person; things that had existed only in (stolen) library books for years. The movement was well captured, from the mounted "readymades" (bicycle wheel, snow shovel) to the meticulously engineered painted works like "Metropolis", that amazingly hellish vision in red by George Grosz. And of course, Kurt Schwitters' sound poems crooning from every corner.

I witnessed a few children being mesmerized outta their skulls by Duchamps' famous optical machine "Rotating Glass Plates" (photo above)... it's worth seeing the exhibit for the viewers' reactions as well as the pieces themselves.

...particularly, watch for the reactions of those who wandered in the wrong door, looking for the infinitely tamer Cezanne in Provence exhibit. You can find 'em by the smouldering scent of minds being blown...

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