A new title in MoMA’s One on One series, focusing on Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s Dada Head
Upon first encountering Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s Dada Head (1920), one might wonder whether it is a sculptural bust, a hat stand, or a fetish object. Indicative of her pursuit to dissipate the conventional boundaries between the applied and fine arts that existed in pre-World War II Europe, the sculpture defies categorization. The artist referred to Dada Head as a self-portrait, but rather than communicating interest in a physical, naturalistic resemblance, it is a composite of elements of art and of the everyday that interested her. At the heart of the Zurich Dada movement, Taeuber-Arp was a dancer, designer, puppeteer, sculptor, painter and writer. Dada Head existed – and still exists – as an investigation into participation across boundaries rather than within them.