The exhibition “Dada Africa” at the Musée de l’Orangerie (to February 19, 2018) focuses on non-western sources and influences inspiring the Dada artists a century ago. Works by African, native American and Asian work are exhibited alongside those of Dadaists Hanna Höch, Jean Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Marcel Janco, Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Raoul Haussmann, Man Ray and Picabia among others.
Dada was a European avant-garde movement, which first emerged in Zurich during the First World War at a satirical night-club the Cabaret Voltaire (1916) and later spread to Berlin, Paris and New York. Reacting to the war, Dada artists rejected nationalism and the mentality of modern capitalist society with anti-bourgeois protest work including collage, sound poetry, cut-up poems, dance, African inspired masks and performance art.
Dada advocated a new vision of non-western art, drawing on a number of sources incorporating it into its own work. Among the fascinating displays the exhibition includes African inspired masks by Marcel Janco, Dada dolls created by Emmy Henning for her Cabaret Voltaire performances and an effigy of a German officer with a pigs head hanging from a ceiling part of the grand opening of the International Dada Fair in Berlin (1920). Years later Jean Arp remembered the Dada movement saying “Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts. While the guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might.”
“Dada Africa,” at Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris. To February 19, 2018.