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.
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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.