Neo-Dada: artists that embraced assemblage and printed canvases, bridging the gap between Dada and Pop Art



Neo-Dada is a word that has been passed down through history thanks to a series of articles from the early 1960s by American art critic and writer Barbara Rose.

With the term Neo-Dada, Rose created a label for a large swath of work by artists at the time who shared a contemporary revisitation of Dadaist irony. Of these artists, two names were destined to become particularly famous: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

Early on in their careers, both Johns and Rauschenberg used techniques such as collage and assemblage, but it was primarily Rauschenberg to pursue this thread with the creation of painting-sculptures and assembled images (Combine or combine painting) and silkscreened canvases.

For the latter, the artist recycled images directly taken from magazines such as Life, National Geographic, Esquire, and Boxing and Wrestling.

The Neo-Dadaists preferred the use of elements derived from mass media as well as from daily life, whether images torn from newspapers or household objects.

Despite not having the philosophical approach or “anti-art” slant of the original Dada movement, Neo-Dada artists tried to use the combination of iconoclasm and appropriation to bridge the gap between art and everyday life. The idea was similar to, though executed in a different manner from, Duchamp & Co.

In some way, the Neo-Dadaists had succeeded in forming that bridge, with the almost fetishistic use of commonplace objects on the one hand, and the iconography of mass media on the other, hovering somewhere between the “old” Dada and the nascent Pop Art.

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