Dialogues: Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, Rauschenberg

Begin Date2005-09-04
End Date2006-01-08
CuratorsDorothy Kosinski
Last Harvested At2022-10-29
Credit LineThe exhibition was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. Exhibition support is provided by the Contemporary Art Fund through the gifts of two anonymous donors, Arlene and John Dayton, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Faulconer, Nancy and Tim Hanley, The Hoffman Family Foundation, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Evelyn P. and Edward W. Rose, and Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and the Donor Circle Membership Program through the leadership gifts of Charron and Peter Denker and Mary Noel and Bill Lamont. Promotional support provided by The Dallas Morning News and KDGE-FM. Air transportation provided by American Airlines. Publication of the exhibition catalogue was underwritten by Marguerite and Robert Hoffman.
LocationChilton Gallery II
OrganizerDallas Museum of Art
DescriptionThe first exhibition to explore the artistic exchange among Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg will be presented by the Dallas Museum of Art from September 4, 2005, through January 8, 2006. Dialogues: Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, Rauschenberg features over forty works, more than half of which will be drawn from the Museum's own holdings and from the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Collection, which was recently committed to the DMA. Organized by Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, the exhibition will reveal the aesthetic dialogue and shared visual vocabulary evident in the work of Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, and Rauschenberg. Set in motion by Duchamp, this dialogue was shaped through time by the artists - sometimes through direct contact, often through intense collaboration, and always through deep artistic and intellectual engagement. The dialogue is also intertwined in the art-making philosophies and strategies of Dada, surrealism, abstract expressionism, and pop art. The exhibition will trace visual and conceptual motifs common to the artists, including the use of specific forms, such as boxes; the manipulation of motifs; the integration of language into art; the fascination with simple machines; the appropriation of icons; and the incorporation of collage, assemblage, and found objects. About the Exhibition: Through the careful juxtaposition of objects, the exhibition will highlight overt and covert dialogues that reappear throughout the work of Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, and Rauschenberg. Duchamp is the most pervasive participant in these visual 'conversations,' and his work can be seen as a springboard for many of the themes that are later explored by the three younger artists. The animating agent of the exhibition is Duchamp's Green Box (1934), a compilation of papers, images, and handwritten notes on his enigmatic masterpiece the Large Glass. Simultaneously illuminating and baffling, the Green Box embodies the artist's love of contradiction and multiple meaning. For Duchamp, the box in general becomes an opportunity to reference his other works of art. The Green Box is a repository for his notes and sketches about the Large Glass. In his boîtes-en-valise, the box is a portable museum, a vehicle to display and carry miniaturized reproductions of his earlier pieces, a kind of summary of his career. For Cornell (who assisted Duchamp in the manufacture of some of the boîtes), the box becomes the central form and process of his entire oeuvre. Cornell also features artistic reproductions and facsimiles in many of his surrealist- influenced shadowboxes, such as Untitled (Medici Boy) (1953). In contrast with both Duchamp's obvious self-referencing and Cornell's often dreamlike juxtapositions, the exhibition will showcase Untitled (Scatole Personali) (c. 1952) by Rauschenberg, who uses the box to give personal significance to a jumble of common objects and materials collected during a trip to the Mediterranean. Rauschenberg's boxes are often large and raw, and, according to the artist, an 'unpacking' of materials that contrasts with Cornell's delicate 'packing' of objects in his box constructions. The integration of language into art is a crucial point of connection and exchange among the artists as well. In works such as Litanies of the Chariot (1961), Johns makes explicit reference to his artistic predecessor by carefully transcribing and obscuring, with his signature hatch marks, a text taken directly from the Green Box that Duchamp himself had written and then crossed out. In contrast, Cornell's Le Caire (c. 1940), filled with tightly rolled sheets of text, and his Mémoires inédits de Madame la Comtesse de G. (c. 1939), containing jumbled cutout phrases, hold the same informational potential as Duchamp's scrambled Green Box notes and are equally elusive and confounding. The fascination with simple machines is another common link between the artists - particularly Duchamp and Rauschenberg. Duchamp's Green Box is filled with images, diagrams, and notations that refer back to the machine rendered in the Large Glass. - particularly Duchamp and Rauschenberg. Duchamp's Green Box is filled with images, diagrams, and notations that refer back to the machine rendered in the Large Glass. Rauschenberg's three-part print Autobiography (1968) may be informed by Duchamp's diagrams, and also documents Rauschenberg's own interest in machines. One of the large-scale prints includes a photograph of Pelican, one of Rauschenberg's many performances that incorporated flying machines. In Device (1962) Johns also recalls the diagrams and pencil sketches found in the Green Box by creating his own simple machine, affixing two wooden slats to the corners of the canvas and then using them like windshield wipers in the wet pigment to form circular imprints. Another central theme that Dialogues will trace is the shared process of art making, which often encompasses assemblage, found objects, and collage. This borrowing also encompasses the appropriation of iconic images, a concept exemplified by Duchamp in his subversive defacement of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (as reproduced in the boîtes). Following Duchamp's lead, Cornell, Johns, and Rauschenberg also incorporate iconic images - and the Mona Lisa especially - into their artwork with their own acts of appropriation, defacement, and homage. The Mona Lisa is encased in one of Cornell's round boxes in Untitled (Mona Lisa) (c. 1940-42); embedded in Johns' Seasons prints (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) (1987), which explore the cyclical nature of life (and, perhaps, art); and reduplicated in a silk-screened image in Rauschenberg's Razorback Bunch: Etching V, 1982. This dialogue illustrates how, in creating art about art, all four artists give testament to the powerful reverberations that such images have on artists throughout history. In the tradition of recent exhibitions of modern and contemporary art organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, such as Degas to Picasso: The Artist and the Camera (1999) and Henry Moore, Sculpting the 20th Century (2001), Dialogues pushes the viewer to reconsider the work of these seminal artists of the modern tradition through a new lens. Exhibition Catalogue The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, which expands upon the artistic interactions among the four artists through the thematic groupings of the exhibition. The seventy-five-page catalogue will include color illustrations, a comparative chronology, an exhibition checklist, and a full bibliography. Exhibition Programming The exhibition will be complemented by an ongoing series of public and family programs in order to bring to life the underlying principle of dynamic collaboration and creative dialogue. Programming will include educational partnerships, family and youth programs, literary programs, dance and music performances, film, artist-in-residence programs, and discussions with community artists. The exhibition installation will include an interactive room for Dada poetry recitations, interpretive dance performances (especially featuring the music of John Cage and the choreography of Merce Cunningham), surrealist films (including Duchamp's own film experiments), aspects of Duchamp's installation interventions, as well as an ongoing chess match, thereby extending Duchamp's own fascination with the game as art form.