The Kunsthaus Zürich Dada Digitization Project

There's nothing like an anniversary for celebrating the work of an individual artist or even an entire movement. For example, we recently covered some of the initiatives being staged this year in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus (Garden of Earthly Delights) Bosch. But it seems that this year also marks the founding of the Dada avant-garde art movement, which can trace its origins back to the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1916.

One of the institutions that will be acknowledging this is the Kunsthaus Zürich. It holds one of the world’s most extensive Dada collections, in the form of 720 historic documents and artworks spanning more than 50 artists. Since many of the works are increasingly fragile and require restoration, this anniversary year is an ideal one for the launch of an extensive digitization project. This will begin with all the original documents in the collection created between 1916 and 1925, as well as related material such as books, magazines and exhibition catalogs up to 1950. The final phase will include drawings and prints from forerunners in the 1910s up to offshoots in the 1950s.

If you're in Zurich you can view some of the restored originals in the Dadaglobe Reconstructed exhibit running until May 1. Following that is Francis Picabia – A Retrospective, open from June 3 through September 25. The first batch of the digitized works can now be viewed on a mini-site, with the remainder, along with related documents, to be available June 3. If you're not up to speed on Dada, and its pivotal role in the development of 20th century art, this is a great place to start. Below is a selection of images from the digitization project, as well as the Dadaglobe Reconstructed exhibit.

Erwin Blumenfeld
Bloomfield, President-Dada-Chaplinist, 1921
Collage of brown-toned, gelatin-silver photograph cut-outs (Portrait Blumenfeld) on a gelatin-silver photo-postcard of a female nude, with halftone print and ink, 13.4 x 8.8 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich, © Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray
Monte Carlo Bond, 1924
Collage on a printed underlay, with red-printed cut-out and gelatine-silver photograph with additions in black ink, red-wash and pencil, 29.5 x 19.5 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich, © 2015 ProLitteris, Zurich

Kurt Schwitters
Naturrein, Merz 143, 1920
Collage of colored papers, halftone prints, tobacco labels and canvas with white ground-layer mounted on light cardboard, 13 x 10.5 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich, © 2015 ProLitteris, Zurich

Max Ernst
Chinesische Nachtigall, 1920
Collage and ink on paper, 12.5 x 9 cm
Musée de Grenoble
© 2016 ProLitteris, Zurich

Johannes Baargeld
Typische Vertikalklitterung als Darstellung des Dada Baargeld, 1920
Photomontage with brown-toned, gelatine silver prints and halftone print with retouches on yellow-toned heavy paper, 37.1 x 31 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich

Raoul Hausmann
P, ca 1920-1921
Collage with printed paper and ink, 31.2 x 22 cm
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Department of Prints, Drawings and Photography
© 2016 ProLitteris, Zurich

Francis Picabia
La Sainte Vierge, 1920
Ink and pencil on paper, 33 x 24 cm
Collection du Centre Pompidou, Musée national d‘art moderne / Centre de création industrielle, Paris
© 2016 ProLitteris, Zurich

Nic Aluf
Portrait of Sophie Taeuber with Dada head, 1920
Gelatin silver print, 20.9 x 16.6 cm
Galerie Berinson, Berlin
© Estate of Nic Aluf