Passion Points: Arts/Culture
The Bride and the Bachelors at the Barbican is a study of four American modern masters—composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns—and how they were influenced by the dada movement. A genre made famous by Marcel Duchamp, dada treated found images and objects as art. The show examines how this concept led modernists down a highly creative path, affecting a sea change in American art, eventually leading to the advent of Pop Art. Don’t miss the Thursday night and weekend shows when dancers animate the exhibit to Cunningham choreographies. (Until June 9) An ideal follow-up is a visit to the Tate Modern’s retrospective on Pop Art–extraordinaire Roy Lichtenstein. (Until May 27)
Alternatively, stick with the avant-garde for the moment and cab it to the National Portrait Gallery to see a series of photographic portraits by American modernist Man Ray. Involved in both the dada and surrealist movements, Man Ray was well placed to take images of his artistic contemporaries. The show includes 150 vintage prints from 1916 through 1968 and features such friends as Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Virginia Wolf, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson. (Until May 27)
Kurt Schwitter’s show at Tate Britain (until May 12) further emphasizes the spotlight Pop Art is currently enjoying. Born in Hanover, Germany in 1887, Schwitters was a prolific artist, but he is best known for his use of found objects and everyday materials—such as stamps, ticket stubs and photographs—assembled into abstract collages. Schwitters was a big influence on Rauschenberg, Sir Peter Blake and the development of Pop Art in the early 60’s. Finally, Rauschenberg admirers should pop into the Gagosian Gallery where a show of the late artist’s work is on display. (Until March 28)
Other shows not to miss in London include Manet: Portraying Life at the Royal Academy of Arts. Two highlights are seeing Manet’s exceptional talent painting the color black and the portrait of his love interest Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets. (Until April 14)
On the other end of the spectrum, German fashion photographer Juergen Teller’s show at the ICA is composed of nude portraits, with subjects ranging from the sexy (Kate Moss and Marc Jacobs) to the mature (Vivienne Westwood and Charlotte Rampling). My favorite work portrays a drenched, small white furry dog having a bath in the sink next to a jug of fresh pink roses. Teller makes everyday things beautiful. (Until March 17)
Finally, “cool” takes on new meaning: Ice Age Art at the British Museum showings art dating back 40,000-12,000 years. (Until May 26) Later this month the Victoria & Albert is exhibiting David Bowie’s fantastic costumes, music videos and pop star paraphernalia. (March 23–August 11)
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