Dada and Constructivism, two art movements characterised by having emerged at critical moments in history: World War I and the Russian Revolution. Nevertheless, despite these similarities, they have often been considered by historians as counter-posed given that the first focuses on intuitive thought and the transrational while Constructivism delves into objective beauty and pure forms.
This exhibition reveals how artists from each movement share artistic approaches, whether it is photography, scenography, architecture, typography or magazine projects, and, furthermore, the Dadaists and Constructivists also worked together, jointly signing manifestos and organising events and public demonstrations. Artists even worked on certain activities in both fields, for instance Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Kurt Schwitters, El Lissitzky and Theo Van Doesburg, not surprising given that both movements exercised idealised and philosophical aims that entailed breaking away from established art mediums and developing completely new formal resources.
The exhibition is divided into six sections. The two hundred or so pieces on display outline the foundations and divergent mediums the Dada and Constructivist works materialised from: collages, paintings, assemblage, sculptures and typography.
The exhibition opens by looking at the precursors to both movements. It includes Cubist works by Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Alexander Archipenko, those ascribed to Russian Futurism by Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandra Exter, Vassily Kamenski-Burliuk, and, via collages and manuscripts, those associated with Italian Futurism, for instance by Francesco Cangiullo, Giacomo Balla and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The exhibit also includes works from the first decade of the twentieth century by Francis Picabia, Oskar Schlemmer and Admadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
Next, the section “Dada Works” portrays the spirit of the movement, the nature of its poetry and resources based on formal and conceptual provocation, free forms and the so-called chance structures. Here they are represented through: Picabia, Johannes Baader, Hausmann, Schwitters, Arp, Höch, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Georges Ribemont Dessaignes and Van Doesburg.
The third part, “Elemental Structures” takes a more profound look at the union between both movements, illustrating the exploration of and emphasis on minimal elements in both visual arts and poetry. It includes works by: Alexander Rodchenko, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, László Moholy Nagy, Kazimir Malévich, Liubov Popova, Hans Richter, Georges Vantongerloo, Katarzyna Kobro and Petr Miturich along with those by Arp, Duchamp, Van Doesburg, El Lissitzky, Exter and Picabia, among others.
The fourth section, “Constructivist Materials”, focuses on the interest in polimaterial structures and new textures applied to the artwork and unearths the irrational content of Dada as the basis of the new material poetry of Constructivism. Besides some of the artists already mentioned, this section also includes work by Podgaevski, Buchheister, Domela, Puni, Strzeminski and Naum Gabo.
The last part of the exhibition, “Synthetic Works”, features the presentation of two global pieces: El Lissitzky's Proun Space and Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau and The Cathedral of Erotic Misery, two real spaces exemplifying the new and totalizing art that both movements were striving for. They are joined by other pieces that highlight the introduction of new Dada and Constructivist techniques in theatre and photography.
Finally, the section “Graphic Work”, extensively exhibits the manifestos, books and magazines as an example of the editorial possibilities both movements employed.
In addition to the works in display, there is also a documentary and bibliographic section that brings the Spanish public into contact with texts, manifestos and articles, translated for the first time into Spanish.
The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo (October 8 - November 13, 1988); Seibu Tsukashin Hall, Amagasaki (November 19 - December 19, 1988); The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama (January 5 - February 12, 1989)