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Making Mischief: Dada Invades New York / Crotti J ; Duchamp M ; Picabia F ; Ray M ; Roche J ; DeZayas M ; Apollinaire G ; Schwitters K ; Watson S., 1996

Identifier: CC-27598-28675

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Scope and Contents

In the words of David A. Ross, director of the Whitney Museum, "This exhibition proposes that as important as Dada was to the growth of American modernism, the ferment of New York played an equally critical role in the continuing evolution of Dada itself." He points out that even though Dada evolved in Zurich and Berlin, few immigrant notions were more quickly or deeply absorbed into American culture, because "American art, like America itself in the beginning of the century, was experiencing an analogous social, intellectual, and moral transformation, and the spirit and purpose of Dada provided a much needed catalyst." The Dada activity in New York centered around the Arensbergs, Duchamp, Picabia and Man Ray. When asked to define Dada, Man Ray echoed the words of Tristan Tzara and said that Dada was a state of mind. Unlike the artists in Europe, the Dadists in New York were driven by a conscious sense of irony, amusement, and genuine sense of humor. Selected chapters of this catalogue include "New York Dada: Style with a Smile," by Francis M. Naumann; "Here Nothing, Always Nothing: A New York Dada Index, Etc.," by Todd Alden; "Midnight at the Arensbergs': A Readymade Conversation," and "Anarchy, Politics, and Dada" by Allan Antliff. The body of the catalogue is composed of illustrations of Dada works, a diary of Dada art events and happenings, and a political, social and artistic chronology. Books and periodicals that are depicted in this catalogue and held by the Sackner Archive include "Nature Morte: Portrait of Cezanne", "291,""391," and "Demi Cercle" by Juliette Roche, A work by Man Ray of 1918 called "L'Homme - La Femme"is illustrated and discussed. In this work, Ray paired a photograph of an egg beater which he called Homme and a photograph of a light reflector and clothespin assembly which he called Femme. This brings to mind a piece in the Sackner Archive by the French artist Miller Levy who made two metal boxes, one on top of the other. The top box with a single, large switch and light, he titled L'Homme. The lower box, with multiple switches and lights, he titled La Femme. Perhaps the artist of the 1990's knew the work of Man Ray and created his own interpretation. It should be noted that in 1920, Ray reprinted the two photographs for a Dada exhibition in Paris and reversed the titles. In her essay, Francis Naumann states that Man Ray initially wanted the titles to lead the viewer to discover "uniquely male or female anatomical equivalents." Later, the change of titles may have signified a gender switch, which would have been a private joke known only to those who knew the original 1918 version. It is interesting to note that this happened about the same time Duchamp created Rose Selavy. In Rosalind Krauss' essay, "The Object Caught by the Heel," the 1918 object titles are illustrated again. Krauss comments that the objects "stake their photographic interest on the relationship between a readymade and its shadow. For in each of these works, the point is a kind of exfoliation of the physical object into the virtual space of its flattened, wall-bound reflection, where, redoubled by means of cast shadow, it functions to reinterpret the mass-produced object...Which means that Man Ray has here entered the discourse on the readymade, then very active within New York Dada circles." -- Source of annotation: Marvin or Ruth Sackner.


  • Creation: 1996



0 See container summary (1 hard cover book (304 pages) in dust jacket) : illustrations (some color) ; 26.7 x 20 x 3.5 cm

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Physical Location

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Custodial History

The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, on loan from Ruth and Marvin A. Sackner and the Sackner Family Partnership.


Published: New York : Whitney Museum of American Art. General: Added by: RED; updated by: RED.

Repository Details

Part of the The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry Repository

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