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Gertrude Stein: A Portrait of the Artist

I’ve never seen the author of Tender Buttons and Three Lives look as she looks in this painting by Picabia from 1937. Her head is small, perched on wide and rounded shoulders draped in brown. Beneath the cloak, a soft blue blouse with a large brooch peeks through. On her face, a sort of “oh well” smirk on thin, taut lips.

Lolo the Donkey and the Avant-Garde That Never Was: Part 2

The pinnacle of Duchamp’s legend is the moment he submitted Fountain to the exhibition of the New York Society of Independent Artists. The exhibition, just like Salon des Indépendants in Paris, was supposed to be open to any artist, but the urinal was rejected. In some ways, Sunset Over the Adriatic and Fountain are two jokes with the same punch line. These open, democratic salons, however well meaning, couldn’t really be open to everything. The impulse of fumisme and later Dada was to poke and prod and offend until the invisible borders of decorum and good taste were revealed. Lolo accomplished this by having his artwork accepted to the salon. Duchamp, repeating the prank seven years later, made much the same point when his artwork was rejected.

Eva Kot’átková: ERROR

Early in the hour-long film, “The Judicial Murder of Jakub Mohr,” the central protagonist, a patient in a psychiatric ward, shouts in Czech, “My words are not my own!” [“Moje slova nejsou moje!”]. He is on Kafka-esque trial for saying out loud what is visibly true: a series of wires—“Threads!” rebukes the prosecutor—extend from his back and connect to an ominous box, which is held by a man who in turn dictates in whispers what the patient says. At one point, Mohr lists to the jury in indignation what he has become: a gramophone, a radio, an instrument. He is something between human self and machine, a cyborg, his agency mediated by the state and psychiatric institution.