As a student I learned that Dada was a short-lived, rather silly art movement of little significance. My professor snickered about a few European artists who became notorious in the 1920s and 1930s by treating porcelain urinals like fine art and filming each other slicing up cow’s eyeballs. They knew how to get publicity, he told us, but they created nothing of lasting value or meaning.
How little he — and I — knew. This exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was a revelation. The show is the first in the United States devoted exclusively Dada, and it is one of the best exhibits I’ve ever seen. I wandered in with no particular expectations and left with a fresh understanding of, and appreciation for, one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century.
The exhibit will be open for two more months. If you have the opportunity to go, do so and be prepared to think about Dada in an entirely new way. Don’t forget to pick up an audio guide. The commentary is fascinating and, thanks to our art-loving mayor, who has been throwing some of his money in MoMA’s direction, the guides are currently available free of charge.