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The Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd St., New York, NY 10019 40.760592 -73.976172
nr. Sixth Ave.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
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  • Type of Show:

    Multimedia/Installation, Museum Exhibits

Lorene Emerson


$20 for adults; $16 for seniors; $12 for students; free for members and children 16. Admission is free Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.


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In New York, the exhibit "Dada" could—if we're lucky—develop an interesting double life. Officially, it is an educational account of the style that flourished during and just after World War I. It deftly grounds that idiom in a war whose horrors made a mockery of the conventional practice of art. (How could art hope to depict a shattered world in a traditional way?) It locates the style in six cities, New York, Paris, Zürich, Berlin, Cologne, and Hannover; and each of its major figures, among them Duchamp, Man Ray, Schwitters, Arp, and Ernst, receives what amounts to a show within the show. Dada's outlook is shown to be highly varied, from the anger of Grosz to the antics of Tzara to the aesthetic speculations of Duchamp—and its means and techniques extraordinarily diverse. In its official guise, the exhibit is also poignant, not just educational. The creators of Dada, rebellious young artists with no patience for settled institutions, are long dead, and their work, made in the excitement of a moment, now yellows on museum walls. Curators are well aware of the melancholy irony. In Paris, they designed the show as a kind of helter-skelter chessboard, hoping to reawaken the spirit of Dada by evoking its love of games and performance. At the National Gallery in Washington, they tried to bring the historical context to life. At MoMA, Anne Umland has created an open-ended environment with lots of cross cuts that generates a sense of teeming profusion, connection, and possibility. Still, what was once particularly young now looks disturbingly old.

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