360 Speaker Series: Catherine Craft

Curator and Author

October 13, 2012

In celebration of the release of her book, An Audience of Artists: Dada, Neo-Dada and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism, Curator Catherine Craft presents a lecture on Marcel Duchamp, Robert Motherwell and the Origins of Neo-Dada.

Toward the end of the 1950s in New York, the term Neo-Dada surfaced to label Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and a handful of other young artists whose work seemed sharply at odds with Abstract Expressionism.  Neo-Dada – supposedly a throwback to Dada, the radical avant-garde, antiart movement that emerged after World War I – quickly became the word of choice in the early 1960s to designate experimental art, including assemblage, performance, Pop art, and nascent forms of minimal and conceptual art.

Drawing on an array of previously unpublished material, Craft reveals Neo-Dada to be a complex phenomenon arising from concerns about viewers, originality, and artists’ debts to the past and one another. Tracing the activities of artists such as Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Jackson Pollock alongside Marcel Duchamp’s renewed embrace of Dada in the late 1940s, Craft explores the challenges facing artists trying to work in the wake of a destructive world war and the paintings, objects, writings, and installations that resulted from their efforts.