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Were the Dadaists Time Travellers? and other questions I’d like to ask Hans Richter

The movie camera – that bastard son of a thousand alchemists, illusionists, inventors, and old showmen – could have been purpose built for the Dadaists and the Surrealists. If it had slipped into obscurity or been written off as gimmick after they had made use of it, its journey into existence could have been said to be worthwhile. It's as if their paths were always destined to cross.

In the Hans Richter show Encounters – "From Dada till today" at Martin-Gropius-Bau you can see the very genesis of avant-garde film. Richter, a painter who moved in Cubist and Dada circles was pursuing a language of abstract imagery with Swedish artist Viking Eggeling. Taking inspiration from musical scores they developed a system of painting across long scrolls as a means of demonstrating progressive sequences and rhythms. When these ideas led to experiments with film they were released from the inertia of the canvas, given flight, and realized through the manipulation of time and form.

The Dadaists are remembered as provocative image makers with a penchant for shock and stark, arresting juxtaposition, but the intention of Richter and Eggeling was to discover and develop a system of communication that would promote universal peace and understanding. Sadly they did not: the premiere screening of Richter's Rhythmus 21 (1921) outraged its audience to the point that they seized the accompanying pianist and dealt him a severe beating. [...]

Hans Richter - Encounters – "From Dada till today"
Niederkirchnerstraße 7, DE-10963 Berlin, Germany
27 March 2014 - 30 June 2014

Guy Parker in ArtSlant Berlin

Hans Richter - Encounters – "From Dada till today"

Exhibition dedicated to Hans Richter opens in Berlin

In Berlin, an exhibition showcasing 140 works of Hans Richter has opened. Born in Berlin, Richter was an avant-garde filmmaker, one of the founders of the Dada movement, and a celebrated painter. We find out more from the exhibition's curator.

Hans Richter might be the most influential modernist artist you've never heard of.

During his lifetime he painted hundreds of oil paintings, was one of the founders of the Dada movement, and made a name for himself as an avant-garde filmmaker. Richter's immediate circle of friends and collaborators included modernist giants like Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. But to the general public he is still relatively unknown.

Now a major exhibition showing 140 of his works, including dozens of films, has opened in the German capital Berlin. The exhibition "Encounters: from Dada till today" follows Richter from his early paintings at the start of the century to his abstract avant-garde films and later to his collages.

Timothy Benson, curator, said, "What makes him different from other artists is that he is not satisfied to stay in any particular style. And he takes risks. He doesn't really care where it takes him. If you were interested in painting you might know him as a painter. If you were interested in film making you might know him as a film maker. But very few people have had the opportunity to see all of these aspects together."

Richter was born in 1888 in Berlin to a bourgeoisie family. He studied at Berlin's school of fine art and later at the Weimar academy. He started publishing his drawings in a variety of magazines around the start of the First World War.

Richter fled to Moscow and later Switzerland before making his way to the US in 1941, where he continued his work and also started teaching art. During the war years the horrors of the Nazis heavily influenced his work.

In the 1950s he started returning to Europe on trips, and finally died in Switzerland in 1976. For Benson, the idea of having a major exhibition of Richter's work in Berlin has always been appealing.

"I do feel that it is a kind of return home for Richter. He did so much here. Not only was he born here he was radicalised here. He, you know, made films, his first abstract films, around here. Just in the outskirts of Berlin. He passed through here, even in 1932, briefly, already being pursued in a way by the Nazis. I really think that so much of what Richter is about comes from Berlin that it is a kind of coming home," Timothy said.

The Hans Richter "Encounters: from Dada till today" exhibition runs until June 30th. - March 31, 2014

New Ai Weiwei exhibition unveiled in Berlin but artist can't attend

* Ai Weiwei unable to attend as China confiscated passport

* Exhibition is largest solo show for dissident artist

* One display is of 6,000 handmade and painted stools

By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN, April 2 (Reuters) - Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's biggest solo show, featuring a reproduction of the white cell where he was held for 81 days by Chinese authorities, was unveiled on Wednesday in Berlin without Ai in attendance because the government still has his passport.

"Ai Weiwei - Evidence", which sprawls through 18 rooms at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum, is a deeply political exhibition of his conceptual art. It opens on Thursday, exactly three years after he was arrested and held in detention.

A white bedroom with foam-covered walls and surveillance cameras reproduces his prison cell.

An outspoken critic of the Chinese government's record on free speech and human rights, Ai did not attend the show's news conference as the Chinese government retained his passport after his release.

"I may have a chance to come to the show, I hope this can be possible, but I don't know," the bearded artist said via video message.

His detention prompted an international outcry and Germany was among those countries that have asked for his release.

"Germany is a place that gives me a lot of support," said Ai, who was awarded a professorship in absentia at Berlin's University of the Arts in 2011.

German curator Gereon Sievernich, who visited the artist in his studio on the outskirts of Beijing, said Ai created several installations specifically for the show.

"He says he wants to prove the truth," Sievernich said, in reference to the exhibition's title "Evidence".

Ai's public comments, activities and art flagrantly defy China's strict controls on the Internet and traditional media.


The Berlin show, which runs until July 7, deals with Ai's detention but also with modernisation in China and its perils.

In one of the most striking installations, 6,000 wooden stools gathered from villages across northern China from past centuries are packed into the neo-classical atrium.

They all share the same design but some are painted green, red and yellow, others have narrow seats. All are unique.

"These stools represent a piece of individuality," Sievernich said, comparing them with mass-manufactured plastic stools. "Today they are vestiges of history."

Other works reflect on traditional handicrafts, history and modernity but are more playful and inspired by Ai's admiration of the Dadaist and conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp's readymades.

In one work particularly appropriate for car-crazy Germany, Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) vases are covered in metallic paint in the same colours as those used on Mercedes and BMW automobiles.

"Each vase is no longer recognisable as an ancient artefact, yet beneath the thin outer layer the history and complexity of the original remain intact," the accompanying text reads.

Ai's career has spanned protests for artistic freedom in 1979, provocative works in the 1990s, and a hand in designing the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as creating "Sunflower Seeds," a London-based exhibition comprised of 100 million hand-painted porcelain seeds. (Editing by Michael Roddy and Sonya Hepinstall)

Reuters - April 3, 2014

Stories within stories

Izhar Patkin exhibit reveals a brilliant, often humorous intellect

"When I paint I'm just as innocent as ever. I am not letting go of that."

— Izhar Patkin, in a 2012 interview

Visit the cavernous Building No. 5 gallery at North Adams' Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and you may be transfixed, titillated or bemused by Izhar Patkin's mastery of artistic media. Through Sept. 1, the one-acre gallery is exhibiting a 30-year retrospective of the Israeli-born artist's works. The images range from a unique form of painting to porcelain and glass figures, sculpture and enormous painted veils that surround entire rooms. The show's images and interviews with the artist are also moveable, captured in a 239-page hard-bound companion catalogue, The Wandering Veil (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, The Open Museum, MASS MoCA; $34.95).

An intense and often humorous man now approaching age 60, Patkin's approach to modernist art energized the New York galleries when he debuted in 1981. His eclectic works are now in the collections of New York's Guggenheim, MoMA and Whitney museums, among other venues. During a recent visit, Joseph Thompson, the founding and current director of MASS MoCA, gave us an exclusive, richly detailed tour through Patkin's works.

A Spaniard in the works

When you first enter the enormous gallery, you're met by the backside of a life-sized Don Quixote and the rear of his horse.

"It's completely characteristic of Izhar's sense of wit that he gives you the ass of the horse as a greeting," the director said.

The statue, of anodized aluminum, conveys a rainbow of colors, from the Spaniard's blue eyes and golden sword to a bouquet of red roses. The horseman's face is modeled upon a friend of Patkin's, the late Herbert Muschamp, architecture critic for the New York Times. The work represents a technological breakthrough. Apparently no one had previously been able to create multiple colors in a single casting of aluminum. In a playful nod to Baroque masters, Quixote holds a mirror to capture your momentary reflection, making you a part of the art.

"In the space of the work you'll see that time and time again in this exhibition," Thompson said.

You're entering into an imaginative field produced by a deeply intellectual artist who brings multiple meanings and attributions into play. After Cervantes had written Don Quixote, a fraudulent second book was written by another author. Cervantes published another story with Quixote often quoting from the earlier bogus book.

"So we have a fiction written about a factual rip-off," the director said. "So it's a story within a story within a story."

Duchamp and Kafka

Patkin was raised in Israel by a Russian father who'd fled to Palestine to escape the pogroms. His mother was a Palestinian refugee. The first painting he recalled seeing as a child was a posthumous portrait of his uncle, his namesake, a soldier killed at age 18.

He was viewing a painting of a ghost. His parents were so devastated by the loss of Izhar the soldier that they didn't utter the name of their child until he reached age 3.

"A ghost is essentially an unresolved, or suspended emotion ... I understand that the role of the artist as narrator is to suspend ghosts," Patkin said in a 2012 interview.

A storyteller, he works in a variety of mediums, drawing much of his inspiration from the red-hot Dada Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). The movement of Dadaism, a peace-loving reaction to the horrors of World War I, sought to bring irrationality, nonsense and surrealism to art. The Frenchman may be best known for his 1912 fractured painting Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2, which one critic likened to an explosion in a shingle factory. Duchamp also found irony in common objects, from bicycle wheels to urinals, displaying them as art.

"Cinema and Duchamp have changed everything in painting," Patkin said in a 2012 interview. "They both threw the canvas into a state of anxiety."

A few paces from the horseman is a barn-board wall of paintings that aren't as they first appear. Two small girls holding a dog also resemble a skull. A house key seen from a distance is actually trompe l'oeil, a three-dimensional painting. For Franz Kafka fans, the key should evoke recognition, alluding to his parable Before the Law. A young man seeks to enter the legal profession, however, he cannot enter a guarded door. He spends his life failing to pass by the guard. As an old man he realizes that his lack of imagination prevented success.

"Everything about him is complicated," Thompson said of the artist.

Patkin is inviting you to use imagination to see beyond just the images that he's created.


The Wandering Veil continues at MASS MoCA through Sept. 1. "The Octagon Room" continues through Feb. 1, 2015. The museum is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Adults, $15; students, $10; ages 6 to 16, $5. Directions: take Route 2 to North Adams. At the second set of lights, past Big Y, take a right onto Holden Street and an immediate left on St. Anthony's Drive. The parking lot is directly ahead.

By Don Stewart in The Recorder - April 2, 2014



22 February - 8 June 2014

Millesgården is proud to present a major retrospective exhibition of the American cult artist Man Ray (1890-1976). It is an intricate journey spanning two world wars, from 1910s early Dadaism in New York, where European artists sought refuge from the war, to encountering the ideas of the Paris Surrealists in the 1920s and 1930s and then, escaping Nazi occupation of the French capital, back to the United States in the 1940s. The places, the times and the famous personalities such as Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, Kiki and Lee Miller all left their mark in Man Ray's art.

The exhibition gives ample proof of the multifaceted nature of Man Ray's artistic practice. He explored the nature of art and worked in many different techniques: sculpture, unique vintage photographs, drawing, painting, objects and experimental film. The exhibition includes some 90 works.

Man Ray was primarily active in three cities: New York, Paris and Hollywood. The exhibition is focused on Man Ray's recurring themes, models and imagery of the 1920s and 1930s Paris. Visitors will encounter famous works such as Cadeau and the photograph La Prière.

Millesgården - an oasis just 10 minutes from downtown Stockholm.


Dada at the Isaacs Gallery

December 20, 1961 - January 9, 1962
Isaacs Gallery
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Read on if you are interested in what was happening in Canada over fifty years ago. Some of the people involved were Michel Sanouillet, Greg Curnoe, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland.