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Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

(Gruenwald, Alfred Emanuel Ferdinand]

(b Stettin, Pomerania [now Szczecin, Poland], Oct 9, 1892; d nr Chamonix, France, 17 or Aug 18, 1927).

German collagist, draughtsman, writer and publisher. Although he came from an upper middle-class family, after serving as a volunteer in World War I he became a pacifist and a supporter of democratic socialism on Soviet lines. In 1918 he began a political career as a committee member of the mid-Rhine district of the Independent Social-Democratic Party, a Marxist party that had split from the Social-Democratic Party of Germany. The short-lived journal he edited, Der Ventilator, which published six issues in Cologne in February and March 1919, was a satirical magazine directed against the Social Democrat government in Berlin.

Having discovered the work of de Chirico and come under the influence of Dada, in autumn 1919 Baargeld became an opponent of tradition and convention in art as well, setting himself particularly against Expressionism. In November 1919 he and Max Ernst, who together can be said to have founded the Cologne branch of ...

Article

(b Geneva, Feb 25, 1872; d Lausanne, Jan 1, 1938).

Swiss painter and multimedia artist . From 1890/91 she studied under Hugues Bovy (1841–1903) and Denise Sarkissof at the Ecole d’Art in Geneva. A travel scholarship enabled her to study in Munich for a year. From 1904 until the outbreak of World War I Bailly lived in Paris, where she associated with Cubist artists, including Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, Marie Laurencin and Sonia Lewitska (1882–1914). From 1905 to 1926 she exhibited regularly at the Salon d’Automne. From 1906 to 1910 her work was influenced by Fauvism, and from 1910 she became interested in Cubism and Futurism: Equestrian Fantasy with Pink Lady (1913; Zurich, Gal. Strunskaja) is reminiscent of the work of Gino Severini or Franz Marc in its rhythmic movement and planar fragmentation of horses and riders into coloured patterns. Other paintings of this period that are also indebted to these movements include ...

Article

Marsha Meskimmon

(b Blainville, 1889; d Neuilly, 1963).

French sculptor, collagist and draughtsman. Sister of (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp. Suzanne Duchamp’s work was significant to the development of Paris Dada and modernism and her drawings and collages explore fascinating gender dynamics. She worked closely with her husband, the artist Jean Crotti and her brother, which has exacerbated the tendency to subsume her particular production under their influence.

Beginning her art studies in 1905 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, by the outset of World War I Duchamp had moved to Paris. Between 1916 and 1921 she produced a significant body of work in a formal language that has come to be called ‘mechanomorphic’—images taken from commonplace mechanical or technological objects (such as cogs, pulleys, lightbulbs, car parts, etc) arranged to describe or infer human agency, desire or behaviour. The work of Francis Picabia, with whom Duchamp and Crotti were closely allied even after his ‘rejection’ of Dada in the 1920s, typifies the mechanomorphic tendency. Duchamp’s own mechanomorphic works, such as ...

Article

(b Paris, July 11, 1906; d Paris, June 1974).

French writer and collagist. He spent his childhood in Argentina, moving to Paris at the age of 16. He greatly admired Dada, which was by then largely exhausted in Paris. In 1928 he collaborated with Henri d’Arche on the film La Perle and soon after became involved in Surrealism, joining the group in 1930. He met many of its members, including André Breton, Paul Eluard, Miró and Yves Tanguy, who regularly gathered at his bookshop in the Boulevard Montparnasse. He was mainly occupied as a poet and writer, though he also took part in other Surrealist activities such as producing collages. He participated in the Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Colle in Paris (1933) and also in the International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries, London (1936). During his association with Surrealism, Hugnet became one of the movement’s chief apologists. He contributed articles to the catalogue of the ...

Article

Éva Bajkay

(b Ersekujvar, Hungary, March 21, 1887; d Budapest, July 22, 1967).

Hungarian writer, painter, theorist, collagist, designer, printmaker and draughtsman. His family moved to Budapest in 1904, and, after finishing an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, in 1908 he began publishing stories and poems. In 1909–10 he travelled across Western Europe and spent some time in Paris, becoming acquainted with modern art and anarchist ideas. He published short stories, plays and poems in Budapest and from November 1915 he edited the periodical A Tett (‘The deed’), which was anti-militarist and discussed socialist theories and avant-garde ideas. In summer 1916 he spent time in the Kecskemét artists’ colony with his brother-in-law Béla Uitz and under his influence executed his first ink drawings (e.g. Landscape, 1916; Budapest, N.G.). Progressive young artists and aesthetes grouped themselves around Kassák; after A Tett was banned in September 1916, he started in November a new periodical, MA (‘Today’; see MA group), which he edited with Uitz (to ...

Article

Term applied to a flat or relief collage of collected junk. It is associated with Kurt Schwitters, who apparently invented the word when cutting out the word ‘Commerzbank’ from a newspaper for a collage he was making. Merz is also the title of a Dada magazine that he edited from ...

Article

(b Brussels, Nov 27, 1903; d Brussels, May 13, 1971).

Belgian writer, exhibition organizer, collagist and composer. As a young composer he was influenced by Erik Satie. He collaborated on Dadaist-inspired journals and published, with René Magritte, Œsophage (1925), the only issue of which, containing the poems of Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara and Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, remained faithful to the Dada spirit. In 1926 Marie, a ‘journal bi-mensuel pour la belle jeunesse’, published under his direction, pursued the same vein; it only had two issues. Mesens was involved in the establishment of a Surrealist movement (see Surrealism), which was strongly permeated with Dadaism in Belgium. In 1927 he became Director of the Galerie L’Epoque and in 1931 of the Galerie Mesens, both in Brussels. Miró, Magritte and Max Ernst all exhibited with him. He founded the Editions Nicolas Flamel, which published the Surrealists’ collective homage to a parricide, Violette Nozières (Brussels, 1933), André Breton’s lecture ‘Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme’, held on the occasion of the first international Surrealist exhibition organized in Brussels by Mesens under the auspices of ...

Article

Julia Robinson

Term used to describe a mid-20th century art movement in America. First used in May 1957, in Robert Rosenblum’s “Castellli Group” article for Arts Magazine, and then, more dramatically, in January 1958, in ARTnews with Jasper Johns’s Target with Four Faces (1955) on its cover. Between 1958 and 1963 the “Neo-Dada” moniker was picked up and used extensively by critics worldwide. Initially intended to describe the attempts of artists in the late 1950s—between Abstract Expressionism and Pop art—to transform a subjective painterly field through collage and assemblage strategies that incorporated everyday objects. The concept “Neo-Dada,” used mostly in the context of art criticism, suggested that the new generation was reprising the strategies of the Dada movement. The original term Dada defined a spirit of protest initiated by an international group of artists who came together in 1916, at the height of World War I, in Zurich in neutral Switzerland. The complexity of this historical background suggests the fallacy of reusing the concept of “Dada” to refer to the work of American artists at the dawn of the 1960s, most of whom seized found materials with an unbridled optimism....

Article

Matthew Gale

Term applied from 1915 to a commonplace prefabricated object isolated from its functional context and elevated to the status of art by the mere act of an artist’s selection. Unlike most types of Objet trouvé, of which it can be considered a subcategory, it is generally a product of modern mass production, and it tends to be presented on its own without mediation. In its strictest sense it is applied exclusively to works produced by (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp, who borrowed the term from the clothing industry while living in New York, and especially to works dating from 1913 to 1921. Duchamp envisaged the ready-made as the product of an aesthetically provocative act, one that denied the importance of taste and questioned the meaning of art itself. According to Duchamp, the artist’s choice of a ready-made should be governed not by the beauty of the object but by his indifference toward it; to these ends it could be selected by chance methods, for example by a predetermined weight or at a predetermined time....

Article

Astrid Schmetterling

(b Miesbach, Upper Bavaria, Aug 21, 1894; d Keilberg, nr Aschaffenburg, Feb 25, 1982).

German painter, collagist, printmaker and photographer. He studied briefly at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich (1913–14) and in 1913 began to make Expressionist woodcuts, which were published in magazines such as Die Aktion (Berlin), Die Weissen Blätter (Leipzig) and Sirius (Zurich). From 1915 to 1920 he lived in Zurich and Geneva, where he was associated with the Dada movement. He continued creating woodcuts but also made reliefs, paintings and collages from newspaper cuttings and other printed papers. At the same time he became interested in abstracting photography and using it in a more metaphoric way. In 1918, while living in Geneva, he created his first ‘schadographs’, such as Untitled (Fish; 1918; New York, MOMA), contact prints of collages and objects on photosensitive paper. Like Man Ray’s rayographs and Moholy-Nagy’s photograms, these cameraless photographs reproduced the negative image of the textures placed on them, creating a new form of representation....

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Xiamen, Feb 19, 1954).

Chinese installation artist, active also in France. Huang Yongping studied at the Zhejiang Fine Arts Academy (now the National Art Academy) in Hangzhou. After graduating in 1982, he became involved in Xiamen Dada, a group of artists famous for having burned their paintings after an exhibition in 1986. This performance event and the group’s other activities were part of a broader national trend—known as the 1985 New Wave Movement—when a younger generation of artists began to experiment with all manner of styles and influences from outside China.

One of Huang’s most important works created during this period included references to Chinese and Western art history. Entitled ‘A History of Chinese Painting’ and ‘A Concise History of Modern Painting’ Washed in a Washing Machine for Two Minutes (1987), the work comprised two art history books (Herbert Read’s Concise History of Modern Painting and Wang Bomin’s History of Chinese Painting...