Thursday, February 14, 2008

have you ever seen this?

Tomorrow we are going to study Dada: an anti-art movement that rose out of World War I; artists that wanted to challenge the accepted, blur the boundaries between art and life, and provoke conventionalists.

What's fascinating to to me about Dada is the name. Its precise origins are unknown, but I think the ambiguity is intentional. Dada is a word that means 'yeah yeah' in Romanian. In French it means hobby-horse. It's a word found in several different languages, and the meaningless of the "movement's" title is the point. Of course being called a movement is counter to the whole idea of Dada. But for lack of a better word, we call it a movement, and it's called Dadaism.

We're going to look at the work of Marcel Duchamp mostly. He did the above. He's famous for taking objects already created and "perfecting" them. He would alter them somehow and declare them his artwork. Hence he made ambiguous what could be called art. He termed them Readymades. (I'm particularly good at this type of art. Yes, yes, hold your applause.)

His most startling work - well, depending on who you are: Mona Lisa defaced is pretty startling - is when he took a urinal and signed it. Titled: Fountain.

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