Van Doesburg and the International Avante-Garde: Constructing a New World

Introduction

The Tate Exhibit, by assembling international works and works in many media, demonstrates, to the less enthusiastic, the exhibit designer’s message that the Avante-Garde was a legitimate and wide ranging movement, and one which reverberates in its effects even today. Styles such as Neo-Plasticism, are Elementarism are examined, but the most colorful is Dada.

Dadaism elicits different responses from different viewers, from the trivial, irritating, or enraging, to the profoundly liberating, and has done so since it was launched on the world. Given its anti-establishment history, and the continuing debate over whether it is really art, its glorification at the Tate is ironic.

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The Tate show can help demonstrate Dada’s impact on today’s design and our definitions of art. Some examples from real life include: the teaching of art to kids, stained glass in contemporary sacred spaces, home furnishings, music teaching and making.

A sampling of the styles the show features includes De Stijl, Dadaism, Elementarism, and Neo-Plasticism. The multi-national selection of artists range from the biggies such as Arp and Mondrian, and obscure ones as well, with a strong Dutch presence and funding support. The media displayed are wide ranging, and reflect the intention of the Avant-Garde’s proponents to overturn old art norms and make art and design accessible to the masses.

Works are arranged such that the orthogonals and diagonals are sited at either end, and artists, crafts, and disciplines affected by the Avante-Garde are on display in between. Van Doesburg’s drawings of exploded architectural detail are missing from the exhibit. Photos of the artists enrich our understanding of the human background to the art.

Merchandise in the stores is well-displayed and offers customers a chance to wear their intellectual bona fides on their blouse. The Tate has offered a selection of lectures and other fora for viewer education. The arrangement of the exhibit helps to make the point that the Avant-Garde was more than artistic crankiness or mental disorder.

Conclusion: The ongoing debate over whether the works of the Avante-Garde are really art is not by any means resolved. However, the ideas of the Avante-Garde certainly liberated the making of art to our benefit today.

The design ideas we see around us are deeply affected by their work. The exhibit reveals the international scope of the Avante-Garde, and highlights the connections between the Avante-Garde and what we see around us on a regular basis. Van Doesburg’s legacy is worth remembering.

This Section is not Part of the Assigned Project

The following is the list of questions originally posed by the instructor for consideration, not an essay. This is set up as a checklist to allow the customer to reassure themselves that all the questions have been addressed, and to facilitate communication across the language barrier with the customer.

Since the topic is an art exhibit, and secondary sources are not exhaustive, many of these answers are inferences rather than based on direct personal observation, which would have been the ideal way of responding to the questions

Who organized the exhibition? Vicente Toldi, Tate Director
Who curated it? Gladys Fabre, independent curator
Who sponsored it? Tate Patrons, Tate International Council, The Van Doesburg Exhibition Supporters Group, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dedalus Foundation, Inc, Mondriaan Foundation, Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation (Straver Foundation), SNS Reaal Fond
Who designed it? Vicente Toldi, presumably, since no other person is mentioned.
Who is it intended audience? Possibly anyone who may not have thought very much about the impact of the Avante-Garde, or who is not an avid art fan is the target.
What are the aims of the exhibition? Based on the artists and works chosen; the aim is to display works not often seen, to display works by lesser known artists, and to show a wide range of media that were affected by the ideas of the Avante-Garde.
What is its central argument? You can see evidence of how these artists succeeded in overturning much of what went before when you look around you at design, art, and art instruction today, and see their influence.
What current debates or topical issues does the exhibition engage with? Is this stuff truly ART?
What underlying assumptions are communicated by the choice of exhibits and form of display?

The form of display seems to assume mostly non-disabled viewers assumes that people walking on their own two feet and looking with good vision are viewing the works. It also assumes that the viewer has not seen previously ephemera and crafts from the same period, objects which reflect similar design ideas.

Is it successful in terms of fulfilling the aims of the organizers? It has been well reviewed for the most part in terms of demonstrating why lesser known names in the Avante-Garde should be studied and remembered, and documenting the enduring influence of these ideas.
What if anything is excluded from its central narrative? Not sure – maybe politics, but not sure, but one reviewer mentioned the absence of certain Van Doesburg architectural drawings.
How is the exhibition organized (by theme, designer, chronologically, other)? Orthogonals are sited at one end and diagonals at the other, with other materials in between that were influenced by the artistic dialogue going on at the time.
How are the artifacts contextualized (i.e., through info panels, labels, graphics, catalogue, etc.)?
Not sure, but there seem to be labels with substantial information. There are lectures and talks as well, and a workshop for a hand-on project.
Is the design of the exhibition appropriate for its subject matter? It sounds like it, but not sure.
Does the Tate exhibit provide an educational experience, and how does it achieve this? Lectures, talks, hands-on projects, contribute to background education.
Is there a shop specifically devoted to merchandise supporting the exhibition, and how much space does it occupy in relation to the exhibits? Yes, but not sure how much space is allocated – the interactive map did not seem to specify the shop footage.
What kinds of products does the shop sell, and how are they merchandised? Typical, not terribly innovative; items meet the need for items to signal the consumer’s intellectual identity, or “brand”.

End of explanatory notes to customer

Outline

Van Doesburg and the International Avante-Garde: Constructing a New World

1. Introduction: The Tate Exhibit, by assembling international works and works in many media, demonstrates, to the less enthusiastic, the exhibit designer’s message that the Avante-Garde was wide ranging and reverberates in its effects even today.
2. Background of Dadaism as a confusing off-shoot of the Avante-Garde
a. The meaning of the word
b. The reaction of the contemporary gallery visitors
c. How Dada was viewed at the time
d. Irony of an anti-establishment movement being displayed in Tate
3. The Tate show can help demonstrate Dada’s impact on today’s design and definition of art: examples
a. Teaching of art to kids
b. Stained glass
c. Home furnishings
d. Music making
4. Sampling of styles the show includes
a. De Stijl
b. Dadaism
c. Elementarism
d. Neo-Plasticism
5. Artists included
a. Many works from off-shore
b. Strong Dutch representation and sponsorship support
6. Media included
a. Wide range of artistic disciplines
b. Reflect the intention to make art accessible even to the oppressed
7. Arrangement of works
a. Orthogonals and diagonals at either end
b. Artists affected by these in display in between
c. Crafts and disciplines affected on display in between
d. Drawings of exploded architectural detail missing from exhibit
e. Photos enrich understanding of the human background to the art

Conclusion

The ongoing debate over whether the works of the Avante-Garde are really art is not by any means resolved. However, the ideas of the Avante-Garde certainly liberated the making of art to our benefit today. The design ideas we see around us are deeply affected by their work. The exhibit reveals the international scope of the Avante-Garde, and highlights the connections between the Avante-Garde and what we see around us on a regular basis.

The current exhibit at the Tate Modern brings a host of objects together from a variety of artists, countries, and media, and styles that fall under the general category of the Avante-Garde (Dadaism, Neo-Plasticism, Elementarism, Constructivism, and Art Concret). This impressive assemblage demonstrates the multi-national nature of the Avante-Garde in its time of inception.

The exhibit also provides ample basis for considering (even by those who do not live and die by art ) the wide ranging and long lasting impact on the lives of people today of the ideas fermenting in the first decades of the 20th century, even the chaotic and self-negating ideas of Dadaism.

Dada is a word that can be understood differently, depending on one’s role, and where one is standing. To a proud papa, it is, he hopes, the first word spoken by a beloved toddler. To a current music aficionado, it is the name of a band (dada home page).

As pointed out by Tristan Tzara, a poet and essayist of the early 1900’, the word also describes the tail of a holy cow, among the « Kru Negroes » (an archaic and now offensive term for an indigenous tribe in what is today called Liberia ), mother and a cube in Italian dialect, and a nurse and hobby horse in Russian, as well as in his native tongue, Romanian. However, Tzara declares in his Dada Manifesto 1918, « The magic of a word – Dada – which has brought journalists to the gates of a world unforeseen, is of no importance to us. »(Tzara, Dada Manifesto 1918).

This paradoxical statement, and so many others, is typical of the deliberately confusing, transgressive, and challenging utterances of Tzara, ne Samuel Rosenstock, a key articulator of Dadaism.

To current enthusiastic visitors to museums of modern art, the name Dada is shorthand for a sidebar to the Avante-Garde, art as goofball antic, art as thumb to nose, but also, art as something that might be easily mistaken for a bin to accommodate one’s litter, or an attractively mounted fire extinguisher.

On the other hand, to those visitors who have been dragged along by their special art fan, Dada may very well be a reason they say they think that avant-garde art is a crock.

Why, they ask plaintively, don’t we just bring our rubbish to the museum and leave it here in a neat pile – who would know the difference? What sort, they ask angrily, of prat would pay good money for such stuff? Doesn’t our kid draw something just as good? Where is the cafe, they ask in desperation, and, more importantly, how soon may we leave?

These public reactions are not novel, nor, if we are to believe their own writings, would they necessarily have been unwelcome to the first promoters of the Dada movement. The Dadaists were in reaction against just about everything . In return, they were regarded with less than approval by their contemporaries, and they knew it, and made fun of this phenomenon.

In light of how disparaged they were by the art world in the first decades of the 1900’s, and especially in light of how deeply they criticized the art establishment, they might be turning in their graves at the thought of the large current exhibit at the Tate Modern (running through May). Or, perhaps, the thought might tickle them, especially the application of Theo Van Doesburg’s colorful geometries to towels, totes and magnets in the gift shop .

If a Dadaist were resurrected today, he might gleefully pluck a tea towel from the gift shop and display it as art, not because of the pattern, but as an object chosen by him, placed out of its usual context as an article of clothing, titled with whatever whimsical thought occurred, put on display, and therefore constituting ART. There would certainly be ample precedent!

The submission, without comment, of a fountain, to an art show, an act of artistic anarchy attributed to Marcel Duchamp, is practically legendary.

But back to the weary, less than excited visitor, wondering why on earth they should be learning about this stuff. (The museum is indeed offering a lecture series, even for the deaf, curators’ talks, and an opportunity to create a hands-on project to help both the confused and the rapt). Why should he/ she be interested at all?

Art historians, on one end of the interest spectrum, are the converted, the choir, to whom it is unnecessary to preach. In answer to this question, they can point to direct lines of influence from the Dadaism of the 1910s and 1920s to the Neo-Dadaism of the post-World War II period, and well known and important names like Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns (Craft), and, it could be asserted, Andy Warhol.

In another direction, connections can be drawn to Surrealism (Craft 4), a movement with its own flock of current artistic offspring, particularly in film, and animation.

However, at the other end of the spectrum of interest and expertise, even the uninitiated among us can identify Dada’s impact in our lives. A swift peek into the chaos and happily self-defined art creations being crafted from re-cycled materials at the nearest grammar school would offer an answer to that question . Also of interest would be a tour of a suburban modern church building . Or take a walk-through of the wall and floor coverings department of a home store .

Finally, check out GarageBand, a piece of software that allows kids to assemble music from a file of pre-recorded sound samples (Garageband).

All these cultural phenomena seem to be influenced by the ideas of Dadaism. The show at the Tate may, in light of this, assist those who would preferentially spend at least some of their Sunday afternoons watching Manchester United rather than getting sore feet at galleries, to draw meaningful connections between Dadaism and current trends and manifestations of the arts, and design.

The current Tate Modern show, taking up half of the fourth level of the museum, does not merely cover Dadaism. It also encompasses the movement that was one of Van Doesburg’s numerous other artistic life pursuits: among them, the ultimate in geometric abstraction, wherein any reference to the human body or realism of any sort was anathema.

Van Doesburg’s ideas on this and other isms of the day were expressed in his editorship of De Stijl, a magazine as well as the name of a style, and through peripatetic lectures and conferences (Mawer). He and Piet Mondrian espoused simplifying art to a series of geometric elements.

Even this was subject to disagreement: the two colleagues split off into Elementarism (diagonals allowed) and the horizontal and vertical axes of Dutch Neo-Plasticism, a rarified movement (orthogonal horizontals and verticals only) of which Mondrian eventually found himself the only votary; (Darwent).

The show includes many works on loan from elsewhere. This means that many pieces have never been seen in the UK, especially those by Theodore Van Doesburg. There is a largely Dutch roster of sponsors , which may have helped in the acquisition of so many Van Doesburg pieces.

Alternatively, perhaps the inclusion of these rarely-seen works was a cunning appeal to Dutch chauvinism for recruiting support from Dutch funders. This strong representation from other collections may be the reason so many of the 350 items are not imaged digitally for later, more leisurely examination.

In any case, the range of countries represented certainly highlights the message forcefully that the Avante -Garde was an international movement, with plenty of cross pollination among artistic communities.

The Tate’s director, Vicente Todoli, has made a point of mounting several previous exhibits focusing on other features of Modernism (The Tate Modern Museum), perhaps as a means of ensuring the development of a future visitor base. If an audience is not raised up in the knowledge and appreciate of the arts, they will not support the arts.

Gladys Fabre, an independent curator, has brought together works in a variety of media and genres. She has assembled the big names in Dada, De Stijl, and the Avante- Garde: Piet Mondrian, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp; names that even the uninformed might recognize. She has included, as well, less well known artists whose work was influenced, or had an influence on, De Stijl, such as Francis Picabia, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Gerrit Rietveld, Sophie Taeuber, and Kurt Schwitters.

A full range of media are represented. They include traditional painting and drawings, and sculpture. This latter is defined, as in the case of the aluminum and wood robot-like Mechanical Dancing Figure, by the less familiar Vilmos Husza, or the chunky blue vaguely android figure Construction within a Sphere, by the equally under-exposed Georges Vantongerloo, by the whimsy of Dadaism.

Ms. Fabre has also included less expected examples of designs that came out of the movement such as typeface, architectural interiors (for example, the explosion of color blocks on the ceiling of the University Hall, in Amsterdam, or the rocking Aubette dance space from Strasbourg), and furniture designs (such as the sculpturally limpid but uncomfortable-appearing Gerrit Reitvald chair, and the modern-looking leather and metal chairs).

There are also publications, posters (one mysterious one features the letters HELI), stained glass (such as the emblematic and endlessly copied windows for the De Lange house), music, and film (The Tate Modern Museum).

This assemblage of objects from all along the spectrum from utilitarian objects to fine, arts, is reminiscent of the vertical integration of some consumer products and manufacturers (the Apple company is one example, Mattel’s Barbie range could be another) wherein products for all uses and levels of complexity are produced under one corporate umbrella and with a solitary design vision.

The wealth and diversity of material demonstrates that the Avante-Garde was a thoroughgoing attempt – utilizing art and design – to overturn everything that went before. Considering that in 1918 the world had just endured the soul-searing destruction of a global war, there was revolution abroad, influenza stalked the world, and women were still wearing corsets, there was plenty to complain about.

The devotees of De Stijl felt that the earlier century’s efforts to portray reality in an increasingly abstracted fashion (Impressionism, Cubism, and Expressionism, for example) never quite broke free of the reality that persisted as the subject. Somehow, even the gradual uncoupling of painting and sculpture from strict realism came in for withering scorn from the Van Doesburg cabal (Tzara, Lecture on Dada, 1922, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry).

The proponents of De Stijl wanted to bring the healing and uplifting benefits of liberated and accessible art and design to the oppressed and the deracinated (Darwent) . In our own era, entrepreneurs such as Terence Conran, and corporations such as IKEA have adopted the notion of good-design-for-all to great and profitable effect.

The exhibit is arranged such that Mondrian’s orthogonal statements are at one end. These are largely color blocks, very familiar, unthreatening, in various sizes and proportions. They are so accustomed an idiom that one feels one has seen them before, even if the particular piece is clearly an import.

Van Doesburg’s paintings in his Counter Proposal series are at the other end of the exhibit. These works, such as Simultaneous Counter-Composition, 1930, resemble Mondrians, but rotated by some 45 degrees, and sometimes disordered a bit. These paintings submit diagonals as an alternative to the grid (the “counter” proposal). They can remind the viewer of a close-up of the bathroom floor tiles, seen a bit too close for comfort during an episode of stomach upset.

However, anyone who has ever installed floor coverings on the diagonal to stretch the visual space in a tiny room truly owes Van Doesburg a debt of gratitude for opening up a new direction and making the off-kilter seem like an inevitable option. These are serene paintings which add color and form without insisting on the viewer’s involvement, but they reward closer attention as well.

The rooms in between bear testimony to the vast array of apparently unrelated design and craft specialties that De Stijl affected, and, by extension, the design ideas we see applied these days. As an example of lasting effect, the rationalized typography design that Van Doesburg innovated (letters fitting in a square, with no lower case letters), can be seen as enabling the development of machine readable typefaces today.

The software called Wordle, which makes a graphic out of any block of text, highlighting words and phrases that repeat often, seems to be a direct descendant of Van Doesburg’s experiments with poster art (Feinberg). As an example of how De Stijl helped to break down boundaries between artistic disciplines, and the constraints of any one medium, the exhibit includes film clips animating Plasticist and Elementarist painting (Darwent).

Simon Mawer of The Guardian faults the exhibit for not including drawings of collaborative architectural projects created with Cornelis van Eesteren. These sound fascinating: the drawings are exploded into three dimensions. Contemporary architects prize such drawings as the best and highest journeyman examples of their craft – it would indeed have been interesting to see how Van Doesburg handled this technique.

The exhibit has been reviewed with differing responses. The impersonality of De Stijl leaves some viewers unmoved (Sooke). However, there is agreement that this is a welcome chance to see works that are not often brought together. There is also agreement that the inclusion of art and design that was influenced by ideas promulgated by Van Doesburg opens up that period to our view, and the wealth of photographs put a human face on this often austere art.

The photos document the relationships that underpinned the life of these artists, especially their lovers and wives. It is interesting to learn, for example, that Nellie Van Doesburg participated in the performance art pieces that Kurt Schwitters and Van Doesburg mounted around Europe, and that Sophie Taueber was married to Jean Arp, and that they all collaborated on the design of Strasbourg’s Aubette building (Mawer).

There has been an ongoing debate regarding the seriousness and validity of the Avante-Garde since it was born. The apparent simplicity and the lack of craft of some of its most famous products leave the impression that there is nothing going on artistically. This debate is not over. Viewers, especially hoi polloi are still asking whether this is really art. It is not clear that this exhibit will answer that question finally for everyone.

However, the clever choices that have been made, and the co-location of works that are different in media but related in idea, help to make the point that the concepts of the Avante-Garde had an impact across Europe, and in many different fields. The specifics of the style of De Stijl (austerity, abstraction, the straight lines of the Bauhaus, on which Van Doesburg aimed to have an impact) may still not be to everyone’s taste.

The merchandising of the exhibit, on the other hand, is readily accessible. An exit shop, that relatively new marketing method of extracting funds from visitor wallets, imprints the cheerful Van Doesburg diagonals on any flat, or near flat, surface (tea towels, totes, key tags, mugs, magnets, notebooks, bags), and offers books documenting the exhibit, displayed tastefully against a sober, receding, industrial gray background.

This venue is supplemented by offerings in the main museum shop. In a decade when the identity of self is defined by the brands one carries or wears, perhaps toting one’s trainers and exercise kit in a Van Doesburg-emblazoned bag, or drinking one’s cocoa from a similarly decorated beaker seems a legitimate means of proclaiming one’s intellectual bent.

“You should want to marry me (or hire me, or be friends with me) because I have slogged through this intellectually challenging exhibit “, trumpets the merchandise. A much coveted related sales item is a set of Dadaist poetry generators: a pre-selected collection of individual words mounted on magnet backing whose arrangement ad libitum allows people to create their own Dada-style poem on their refrigerator door (Tzara, To Make A Dadist Poem, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry).

Happily, the overturning of the 19th century insistence on an imitation of nature (which effectively excluded from the practice of art anyone who was not a good draftsperson), has spawned a whole new style of art teachers, whose young students joyously create something, anything; confident in their belief (directly attributable to Van Doesburg and his companions) that if they call it art, IT IS, by gosh, ART.

Reflecting this same joyous anarchy, Catherine Craft notes that Robert Motherwell, the essential biographer of the Avante-Garde, observed that Dada had given health and new life to painting in Europe (Craft 3-4). There is also a practical inheritance, e.g., typefaces which even a computer can read.

The geographic distribution and inter-connectedness of the Avante-Garde are presented forcefully in the exhibit, and it is accessible both to the fan and the less than rapt. Van Doesburg well deserves this resurrection from oblivion.

I. The catalogue of ideas, institutions, religions, and behaviors, to name a few, that Dada revolts against, is expressed here by Tristan Tzara:

“The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art, but of a disgust. Disgust with the magnificence of philosophers who for 3ooo years have been explaining everything to us (what for? ), disgust with the pretensions of these artists-God’s-representatives-on-earth, disgust with passion and with real pathological wickedness where it was not worth the bother; disgust with a false form of domination and restriction *en masse*, that accentuates rather than appeases man’s instinct of domination, disgust with all the catalogued categories, with the false prophets who are nothing but a front for the interests of money, pride, disease, disgust with the lieutenants of a mercantile art made to order according to a few infantile laws, disgust with the divorce of good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly (for why is it more estimable to be red rather than green, to the left rather than the right, to be large or small?).

Disgust finally with the Jesuitical dialectic which can explain everything and fill people’s minds with oblique and obtuse ideas without any physiological basis or ethnic roots, all this by means of blinding artifice and ignoble charlatans promises. “(Tzara, Lecture on Dada, 1922, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry) (sic)

II. This impatience with art as it used to be was verbalized by Tristan Tzara in the following almost lucid quote:
“We don’t accept any theories. We’ve had enough of the cubist and futurist academies: laboratories of formal ideas… Cubism was born out of a simple manner of looking at objects: Cezanne painted a cup twenty centimetres lower than his eyes, the cubists look at it from above, others complicate its appearance by cutting a vertical section through it and soberly placing it to one side. (I’m not forgetting the creators, nor the seminal reasons of unformed matter that they rendered definitive.)

The futurist sees the same cup in movement, a succession of objects side by side, mischievously embellished by a few guide-lines. This doesn’t stop the canvas being either a good or a bad painting destined to form an investment for intellectual capital.

The new painter creates a world whose elements are also its means, a sober, definitive, irrefutable work. The new artist protests: he no longer paints (symbolic and illusionistic reproduction) but creates directly in stone, wood, iron, tin, rocks, or locomotive structures capable of being spun in all directions by the limpid wind of the momentary sensation.

Every pictorial or plastic work is unnecessary, …A painting is the art of making two lines, which have been geometrically observed to be parallel, meet on a canvas, before our eyes, in the reality of a world that has been transposed according to new conditions and possibilities.

This world is neither specified nor defined in the work, it belongs, in its innumerable variations, to the spectator. For its creator it has neither cause nor theory. Order = disorder; ego = non?ego; affirmation = negation: the supreme radiations of an absolute art.

Absolute in the purity of its cosmic and regulated chaos, eternal in that globule that is a second which has no duration, no breath, no light and no control. I appreciate an old work for its novelty. It is only contrast that links us to the past.(Tzara, Dada Does Not Mean Anything, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry) (sic)

III. Tristan Tzara offered the following straightforward instruction, in poetic format. He could also have mentioned that choosing several different articles with different typefaces would add a certain decorative fillip to the randomly generated poem:

To Make a Dadist Poem

Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”

(Tzara, To Make A Dadist Poem, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry) (sic)

Resources

(Modern Dime Sized Coins of the World: Liberia)
“I don’t have to tell you that for the general public and for you, the refined public, a Dadaist is the equivalent of a leper. But that is only a manner of speaking. When these same people get close to us, they treat us with that remnant of elegance that comes from their old habit of belief in progress. At ten yards distance, hatred begins again. If you ask me why, I won’t be able to tell you.” (Tzara, Lecture on Dada, 1922, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry)
The size of gift shops has begun to rival exhibits in many museums; The Metropolitan has several and at least one off-site. This indicates just how tenuous are the traditional sources of support for museums’ operations, now seldom covered by admission sales.
In an article assumed to be by Marcel Duchamp, the author defends the appropriateness for inclusion of a fountain in an art show, as follows: “He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.”(Duchamp) This could be considered a summary statement of the criteria for Dadaist art.
Observe how the teacher encourages the kids to call whatever they put together, whatever they create, whatever they assemble, ART.
Look at the geometric stained glass which graces so many contemporary church windows; even decades after Van Doesburg and Mondrian are gone from the scene.
Equally; the geometric Mondrianization of patterns is evident everywhere in home furnishings.
Art is what you choose to call art; a Dada principle!
It is hard not to imagine that a high fiber diet and some yoghurt, or an anti-depressant, might have soothed these anal-compulsive-seeming obsessions just as effectively.
Tate Patrons, Tate International Council, The Van Doesburg Exhibition Supporters Group,
The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dedalus Foundation, Inc, Mondriaan Foundation, Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation (Straver Foundation), SNS Reaal Fond (The Tate Modern Museum).
It should be noted that there was a distinct political (or sometimes anti-political) thread in the passions of the Avante-Garde, which did not always endear the movement to establishment institutions (Craft 3).
Van Doesburg’s use of “solomite”, a building material made of straw, is a striking foreshadowing of the whole sustainability movement in home design today (Mawer).

Bibliography

Craft, Catherine. New York Dada? Looking Back After a Second World War, lecture given September 9, 2006. 2010. 10 March 2010 .

dada home page. 2010. 11 March 2010
.

Darwent, Charles. Well-chosen works show how De Stijl – ‘The Style’ – movement led to a revolution in European art that still resonates today: Van Doesburg & the International Avant-Garde, Tate Modern, London. 2010. 11 March 2010
.

Duchamp, Marcel. “‘Dissent and Disorder’-Selected Essays on Dadaism.” Harrison, C. and Wood,P. Art in Theory. Trans. Ralph Mannheim. London: Blackwell Publishing, 2002. 250-275.

Feinberg, Jonathan. Wordle: Beautiful Word Clouds. 2010. 12 March 2010
.

Garageband. 2010. 10 March 2010
.

Mawer, Simon. Theo van Doesburg: Forgotten artist of the avant garde. 23 January 2010. 11 March 2010 .

Modern Dime Sized Coins of the World: Liberia. 2010. 10 March 2010
.

Sooke, Alastair. Tate Modern’s new exhibition about the Dutch art movement De Stijl leaves Alastair Sooke feeling a little cold: Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde at Tate Modern, review. 11 March 2010. 11 March 2010
.

Tzara, Tristan. Dada Does Not Mean Anything, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry. 2010. 11 March 2010 .

Tzara, Tristan. “Dada Manifesto 1918.” Motherwell, Robert, and Arp, Jean. The Dada Painters and Poets. Trans. Ralph Mannheim. New York: Wittenborn, Schultz, 1970. 76-82.

—. Lecture on Dada, 1922, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry. 2010. 10 March 2010 .

—. To Make A Dadist Poem, reprinted in Tristan Tzara: Biography, DADAism, and Poetry. 2010. 11 March 2010 .

Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: About the Exhibition. 2010. 10 March 2010 .

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