Thursday 8 April 2010
NB Dubdog, 2010, after van Doesburg
Yesterday Claire and I went to the excellent Van Doesburg & The International Avant-Garde: Constructing A New World exhibition at Tate Modern. Highly recommended - so much graphic design that came after was highly influenced by this egocentric innovator and those he associated with. He was quick to exploit associations in order to get his vision across and he wasn't afraid to burn those that swayed from his singular mission; being gutted at his rejection by the Bauhaus as a tutor, he set up his own rival course in Weimer that dismissed Bauhaus teachings.
This exhibition is testament to the many visually exciting explorations that were happening at the time, both from the hands and mind of van Doesburg and from those of avant garde art movements. And you can clearly see the reverberations this had on those that followed:
David Carson work arguably couldn't have existed without van Doesburg's Dada type experiments,
Theo van Doesburg. Poster Dada Matinée. January 1923
Alan Fletcher's collages owe many a debt to Kurt Schwitters,
Kurt Schwitters, Merzbild
Stefan Sagmeisters work for Lou Reed could be said to be a direct reference to Raoul Hausmann's Postcard to I.K. Bonset,
Raoul Hausmann's Postcard to I.K. Bonset 1921
and Müller-Brockmann's posters could have been composed from a De Stijl 'how to' manual, if such a thing existed.
Theo van Doesburg Arithmetic Composition 1929-30
I particularly enjoyed the De Stijl Typography and Dada & Constructivism rooms, and specifically some of van Doesburg's ramblings written large on the gallery wall. This example almost reads like a CRASS lyric:
DADA, PICABIA writes, does not feel anything,
it is nothing, nothing nothing.
It is like your hope: nothing.
Like your idols: nothing.
Like your paradise: nothing.
Like your politicians: nothing.
Like your heroes: nothing.
Like your artists: nothing.
Like your religions: nothing.
Dada was not made, but came into being.
One cannot become a DADAIST, one can only be one.
(Van Doesbury 1923)
The exhibition on until May 16th 2010, Tate Modern. Go to!