Ants in Your Hands

Lecutre on Dada and Surrealism

What better time for a resurgence of Dadaism than now, as the world spirals ever further into absurdity? Inspired by the horrors of World War I, the original Dadaists responded by creating (anti-)artwork that reveled in the absurd and nonsensical. Why bother sitting down to paint a realistic depiction of a landscape when chances are it'll have the shit bombed out of it before you can finish? Better instead to just sign your name on a urinal and put it in a gallery. I mean, fuck it, right? Surrealists took what the Dadaists started and tamed it a bit, insisting that sometimes, a cigar is not just a cigar and giving us one of modern art's most confrontational mustaches, that of Salvador Dali. Ever looked at a piece of modern abstract art with disdain, thinking to yourself, "I could cough up something more aesthetically pleasing"? Perhaps you have a bit of Dada inside you—get your mind out of the gutter, that's not what I meant. Ever had a particularly meaningful dream that you've bored your friends with by recounting? You, my friend, have the potential to be a surrealist!

Feeling a little underwhelmed by this layman's explanation of modern art? This Tuesday, the Orange County Museum of Art is presenting a lecture illuminating the tenets of both of these related movements by actual art historians. No word on whether or not you'll score extra points with the lecturers if you wear a necklace made of chicken heads, but it's certainly worth a try.

Lecture on Dada and Surrealism at the Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (714) 759-1122. Tues., 6:30 p.m. $5-10.

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Traditional fine art painting and sculpture relies on shapes taken from the real world, of which there are limitless examples. In contrast, abstract artists are obliged to rely on artificial, non-natural forms. Thus abstract art is typically concerned with the production of various geometric shapes. And the size and character of these shapes, their relationship to each other, as well as the colours used throughout the work, become the defining motifs of abstraction.



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