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The fathers of Dada at Tate Modern

Latest update : 2008-02-20

A notorious urinal, a "Mona Lisa" with facial hair and an all-pervading bawdy wit dominate a London art show featuring Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia, the fathers of Dada.

"Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia" at Tate Modern charts how their intense friendship forged in the early 20th century informed their work which is still a major influence on contemporary figures like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.


Works on show include Frenchman Duchamp's "The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even" (The Large Glass), a large glass panel whose erotic theme is communicated through visual references to physics and engineering.


There is a replica of Duchamp's "Fountain" -- a urinal on its back which caused a scandal when it was unveiled in 1917 -- plus three reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" on to which he pencilled a beard and moustache.


These works are entitled "L.H.O.O.Q", which in French form the phrase "elle a chaud au cul", or "she has a hot arse", one of a series of erotic puns, both verbal and visual, which punctuate the show.


A series of Man Ray's rayographs -- images created by placing objects directly on or close to light-sensitive paper -- are also on display. The US artist worked in a string of media but is best known for his ethereal photography, often of the human body. The most striking works by Picabia, who was also French, are a series of brash, fleshy oils often copied from sources such as cigarette cards which he said he hoped would please his concierge.


Curator Jennifer Mundy told AFP: "There wasn't an element of rivalry, there was a genuine, open warmth which allowed them to have a lot of fun together but also to engage in these visual dialogues."


The show runs at Tate Modern from February 21 to May 26 and will be on display at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, from June 19 to September 21.

Date created : 2008-02-20