“No one can escape fate. No one can escape Dada,” the poet Tristan Tzara wrote in a 1924 manifesto. Many of the artists exhibiting in this year’s Spotlight section of Frieze New York, which features solo shows of 20th-century art, seem never to have tried. Among the 20 stands are displays dedicated to painters and sculptors who consciously extended Dada’s demand that chance and life be integrated into art.
François Morellet, Galerie Hervé Bize (D35)
This stand, which celebrates the French artist François Morellet’s 90th birthday, includes his wallpaper in a random pattern of red and blue squares. “The work is based on a painting by François, now in [New York’s] Museum of Modern Art,” says the dealer Hervé Bize. Although Morellet’s geometric work seems to carry little of Dada’s spirit, his chance-based procedures come straight from the book of Tzara, who, in 1918, declared his “absolute and unquestionable faith” in the “immediate product of spontaneity”. Works are priced between $25,000 and $120,000.
Felipe Ehrenberg, Muro de Lamentos (1969). Baró Galeria, São Paulo (C49). Photo: Casey Fatchett
Felipe Ehrenberg, Baró Galeria (C49)
To keep in touch with his family, the Mexican artist Felipe Ehrenberg sent postcards from England, after emigrating there in 1968. Examples of the resulting work—early instances of mail art—are at Baró Galeria. Muro de Lamentos (1969) includes not only a view of the Western Wall in Jerusalem (Ehrenberg, who had Jewish roots, wrote how good it felt to “come back to the country of our old, old ancestors”), but also a collaged picture of England. Works are priced from $6,000 to $44,000.
H.C. Westermann, The Last Ray of Hope (1968), Venus Over Los Angeles (C50). Photo: Casey Fatchett
H.C. Westermann, Venus Over Los Angeles (C50)
It makes sense that, for the US artist H.C. Westermann, the Last Ray of Hope (1968) was a pair of shoes tucked away in a case; he spent much of his time walking the path between art and life. His work deals not only with his time in the army—he served as a gunner in the Second World War—but also recognises the tradition of the readymade: one work on the stand is a finely fashioned dustpan. “He had one foot in American folklore and another in [the ideas of] Duchamp and Joseph Cornell,” says the dealer Adam Lindemann. Prices for the works begin at $50,000.
Robert Filliou, Hand Show (1967), at Richard Saltoun, London (D35). Photo: Casey Fatchett
Robert Filliou, Richard Saltoun (D29)
The French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou photographed the hands of artists, including Jasper Johns and John Cage, for this work, Hand Show (1967). His friend Andy Warhol, whose palm is also depicted, knew a window dresser at Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue in New York, and arranged to have the piece presented there. Works of art, Filliou later wrote, “should be displayed in the street and in shop windows, so that we can do without museums and galleries”. The piece is priced at $20,000.
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