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New York Dada

October 20, 2006–April 5, 2010

The New York Dadaists were an international group of artists, writers, and musicians who gathered at the Manhattan apartment of art collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg. The group exhibited together and produced a number of eccentric little magazines between 1915 and 1921. Although they did not officially adopt the Dada name until 1921, they used irony and irreverence to topple artistic conventions they found obsolete, much like their contemporaries in Germany, France, and Switzerland (where the nonsense term "Dada" was coined).

Paintings and sculptures created by Dada artists often reflect the group's shared interest in everyday, readymade objects, as expressed in Marcel Duchamp's declaration that the United States' greatest contribution to art was "her plumbing and her bridges." Many of the paintings explore the erotic possibilities of abstracted and mechanical imagery, while others range from animated figural scenes to machine forms, demonstrating the extraordinary stylistic diversity of the group. The New York Dadaists disbanded shortly after the Arensbergs moved to California in 1921, but their impact reached far beyond their brief existence as an avant-garde group.

Main Building


Michael R. Taylor • The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art
Emily Hage • Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow of Modern and Contemporary Art

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