February 29, 2016 - Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart - Raoul Hausmann, Dadasoph. From Berlin to Limoges / Let's Talk about Art. Art and Language in the Museum's Collections
February 29, 2016

Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart

Left: Raoul Hausmann, L’homme qui a peur des bombes (The Man who is Afraid of Bombs), 1957. Film. Right: Raoul Hausmann, Dada Raoul, 1951. Photomontage. Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art Collection.

Raoul Hausmann, Dadasoph. From Berlin to Limoges
Let's Talk about Art. Art and Language in the Museum's Collections
February 27–June 12, 2016

Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart
Place du Château
87600 Rochechouart
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 10am–6pm

T +33 5 55 03 77 77


Raoul Hausmann, Dadasoph. From Berlin to Limoges
Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates Dada's 100th anniversary with an exhibition on the work of Raoul Hausmann. This is the first time since 1994 retrospective that an exhibition on this scale has been devoted to him. Works on display have been selected from the Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art’s Hausmann collection, a collection of over 700 works plus thousands of personal documents that are the accumulated fruits of Hausmann's production during his years of exile and subsequent settlement in France. Together, the pieces provide a unique portrait of the man who claimed the title of “Dadasoph." They illustrate the broad diversity of art forms and in particular the experimental aftermath of Dada.

Raoul Hausmann was born in Vienna in 1886. His father was a painter in the academic style of the day. By 1900 the whole family had moved to Berlin where the young Hausmann encountered the influences of Cubism, Expressionism and Futurism before becoming one of the founders of the Berlin Dada movement in 1918. Two years earlier in Zurich, the Dada movement had emerged in reaction to the First World War as an iconoclastic questioning of the forms and aims of art. The Berlin version of Dada with Hausmann as one of its main protagonists, adopted a more political stance. Failing to find solutions in fine arts and particularly in painting, Hausmann invented photomontage and was a precursor in phonetic poetry. One of his most famous poems, Fmsbw, profoundly influenced his friend Kurt Schwitters' own work.

Dada set out to demolish barriers that separate art from life and although the Berlin movement was short-lived, Hausmann continued to embody this quest. He dreamed up a device able to convert sound into images—his “optophone” in the 1920s. He also began to become a photograph. However in 1933, when the Nazi party came to power, Hausmann was labelled a degenerate artist and had to flee from Germany. Seeking refuge for a time on the island of Ibiza, he used his photographic skills to record the landscape and environment until the Spanish Civil War forced him to move on once again. After a long journey across Europe, Hausmann finally found shelter at Peyrat-le-Château in the Limousin region where he stayed hidden throughout the war before settling in Limoges where he died in 1971.

The war over, Hausmann resumed his Dadaist practices of collage and photomontage, and after having abandoned painting in 1918 he even took it up again in 1959. Simultaneously he developed a considerable amount of written material both poetical and theoretical. The term “neo-Dada” began to be fashionably brandished by a new generation of young artists and critics all avid for Hausmann's views so he attempted to write a history of Dada. Whether arguing with Lettrists, neo-Dadaists and New Realists or sympathising with Situationists and Fluxus artists, Hausmann's work gained the status of a reference for contemporary art movements that admired Dada's experimental approach to art making.

The exhibition draws on over more than 100 works and many documents from the Museum's Hausmann archives. These items come directly from the artist's studio, and combine to give us a picture of Dadasoph Hausmann's ambitious vision and the historical as well as intellectual background that underlies it. “We are what we keep” goes the old adage. In this case, the artist's archives, the places they are stored in, or the gaps in records all reflect the story of an artist, his periods of exile and to quote the name of one of Hausmann's best known sculptures—the “spirit of our time." The exhibition also includes Hausmann's Optophone fabricated by the artist Peter Keene who has made a real version of the theoretical invention originally imagined by Raoul Hausmann.

Let's Talk About Art. Art & Language in the Museum's Collection
Including works by Alighiero e Boetti, Robert Barry, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Aurélien Froment, Mark Geffriaud, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Kapwani Kiwanga, Thierry Kuntzel, Kent Monkman, Mathias Poledna, Laure Prouvost, Ugo Rondinone, Cerith Wyn Evans

Works combining art and language have been chosen from Rochechouart Museum's contemporary art collection in resonance with our concurrent exhibition on Raoul Hausmann. Throughout the history of art, from medieval illuminated manuscripts to surrealism, words have rubbed shoulders with images. Dada took a step further by breaking with traditional language and developing phonetic poetry. Another turning point in the 20th century occurred in the 1960s when conceptual art put the idea before the work and therefore relied heavily on language to communicate this.

Today's digital age has broadened the scope of written language to encompass alternative information codes such as social media or mobile texting. The works shown here therefore illustrate writing in many forms, conveying slogans, encapsulating memories or telling a story.

Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart
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Let's Talk about Art. Art and Language in the Museum's Collections
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