Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dean Esmay has an interesting post called Art's in The Eye of the Beholder, BUT...

Go read the whole thing, and the comments.

A couple of notes, in my opinion Mr. Esmay is not correct in saying that Dada "showed its greatest contempt" in Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain." Another Duchamp piece holds that position, LHOOQ. The following description is from Wikipedia (in its listing on the Mona Lisa):

"The avant-garde art world has also taken note of the undeniable fact of the Mona Lisa's popularity. Because of the painting's overwhelming stature, Dadaists and Surrealists often produce modifications and caricatures. In 1919, Marcel Duchamp, one of the most influential Dadaists, made a Mona Lisa parody by adorning a cheap reproduction with a moustache and a goatee, as well as adding the rude inscription LHOOQ, when read out loud in French sounds like "Elle a chaud au cul" (translating to "she has a hot arse" as a manner of implying the woman in the painting is in a state of sexual excitement and availability). This was intended as a Freudian joke, referring to Leonardo's alleged homosexuality. According to Rhonda R. Shearer, the apparent reproduction is in fact a copy partly modeled on Duchamp's own face."

LHOOQ shows Dada's contempt not just for the art viewer and the art world of the time, but for art as history and tradition.

Another thing to note, Dada came from the Post-Great War era, where nihilism and cynicism were central in European thought, especially in the Arts and the intelligentsia. This nihilism and its concomitant apathy were part of the cultural forces that allowed (and overlooked) the rise of Fascism in Europe.

Considering some of the strains of current culture, and the historical forces at work in world politics, the history and results of Dada and its times worth studying today.

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