Fine Arts Gallery Exhibit on Dada and the Continuing Allure of Anti-Art Opens Thursday, March 16

Recognizing the centenary and far-reaching importance of a pivotal modern art movement, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery has partnered with Vanderbilt’s W.T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies to present The Dada Effect: An Anti-Aesthetic and Its Influence, an exhibition that will be on view from March 16 through May 27. An opening reception will be held Thursday from 5 to 7 pm in the atrium of Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus.

Dada was an international multimedia artistic and literary movement founded in Zurich in 1916 to reimagine and, in fact, tear down prevailing forms of art that had dominated the Western tradition. As early as 1915, while such proto-Dadaists as Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray worked in New York forming their anti-establishment philosophy of art, Zurich Dada was beginning to develop independently in the shadow of the First World War. Following in its aggressively anti-nationalistic, anti-war and anti-bourgeois position, independent Dadaist groups were launched in Paris, Berlin, Cologne and other metropolitan centers.

The Dada Effect shows how Dadaist aesthetics and ideology directly influenced modern art and literature through the twentieth century in many subsequent movements, including Surrealism, ‘Pataphysique, and Neo-Dada. Thanks to the impressive collection of rare books and journals contained within the Pascal Pia Collection held at Vanderbilt’s W. T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies, the literary aspect of these movements will be on full display with first editions of works by Tristan Tzara, André Breton, and Jean Cocteau, among many others.

Art from the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery Collection and several outside loans highlight the connections between various branches of “the arts” (visual, literary, musical, plastic, performance). Works by artists whose imaginations were captured by the notion of anti-art for many decades, including Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, Robert Rauschenberg, and John Cage, will play an integral role. The exhibition is also intensely pedagogical, with contributions from students in the Department of Theater and the Blair School of Music.

Special Programs

Moveable Dada (This is Not Your Dada’s Dada!)
An evening of Art, New Music, and Conversation
March 23 at 7:00 pm in the gallery
This program is an exciting collaboration between the Fine Arts Gallery and the Blair School of Music, with the performance of four original student compositions. All are inspired by works of art either in the exhibition or relating to the spirit of Dada. Recordings of these pieces are available through the exhibition audio guide.

Dada hitchhikes a ride to America!
April 4 at 5:30 pm in Cohen 203
Professor Robert Barsky, chair of the department of French and Italian and faculty director of the Bandy Center, will discuss the Beat Generation’s affinity for all things Dada, and he will offer examples from the poetry, the songs, and the general comportment of Allen Ginsberg to show how being “beat” would often overlap with the Dada approach to art and to life.

The Dada Effect: An Anti-Aesthetic and Its Influence is curated by Daniel C. Ridge, assistant director of the W. T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies, and organized by the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, with support provided by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy, Leslie Cecil and Creighton Michael (MA’76), Vanderbilt’s Department of French and Italian and Department of Theater, the Jean and Alexander Heard Library, and the Ewers Gift for Fine Art.

The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the
Peabody College campus. Gallery hours from March 16 to April 24 are Monday through Friday 11 am to 4 pm, weekends 1-5 pm; and from April 25 to May 27, Tuesday through Friday 12-4 pm, Saturdays 1-5 pm, closed Sundays and Mondays.

Admission and all events are free and open to the public. Visitors to the opening reception and special events may park free of charge anywhere in Lot 95, accessible from 21st Avenue South. For more information, please visit the gallery’s website at or call 615-322-0605.

Man Ray
American, 1890–1976
The Meeting, plate IV, from Revolving Doors
Conceptualized as collage, 1916-1917. Printed in Paris, 1926.
Pochoir on paper
22 x 15 inches
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2017
Courtesy the Hampshire College Art Gallery

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