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New Des Moines Art Center exhibition celebrates Dada and Surrealism


DES MOINES, IOWA — On Friday, December 8, the Des Moines Art Center will open “The Irrational and the Marvelous,” which will be on view through March 25, 2018, in Blank One Gallery.

A little more than a century ago, a group of European artists banded together and formed Dada, an art movement that responded to the trauma of World War I and challenged the concept of fine art. Dada’s irrational tactics later paved the way in the 1920s for Surrealism, a movement that encouraged participating artists to look to the subconscious for inspiration. “The Irrational and the Marvelous” celebrates both Dada and Surrealism, and features the work of Dada icons Marcel Duchamp and Hannah Höch, and surreal explorations by Leonora Carrington, Roberto Matta, and Dorothea Tanning, among others.

“The Irrational and the Marvelous” is organized by Assistant Curator Jared Ledesma.
Related Program

Lecture + Dada Piano Performance
Sunday, January 7, 1:30 pm
Snow date: Thursday, January 18, 6:30 pm
Levitt Auditorium / Cowles Sculpture Court, I. M. Pei building
*Reservations required and limited to 100 guests

In this talk, Assistant Curator Jared Ledesma will discuss both Dada and Surrealism and the works that comprise the exhibition. To connect further with the various art forms and strategies of Dada, immediately following the talk, guests will have the rare opportunity to experience Dadaist music from the ballet work “Relâche” performed under the Numen/For Use sculpture “Tape Des Moines” in the I. M. Pei building. Composed in 1924 by French pianist Erik Satie, the score for “Relâche” embodies the spirit of Dadaism through its unconventional, fragmented style, and was inspired by bawdy army songs and jazz. The piano score will be performed by Sophia S. Ahmad, and runs approximately 35 minutes.

Prep Iowa - Pride Month

Ms. Ahmad holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Literature and an Arts Leadership Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. In 2010, she became a fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts’ Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University. She has collaborated with bass-baritone Simon Estes and composer Libby Larsen. She has recorded for Iowa Public Radio and Prentice Hall’s “Inside the Orchestra” DVD and performed with artists from around the world, including those from the National Portuguese Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and Ensemble Signal. Ms. Ahmad serves on the piano and chamber music faculty at the Des Moines Symphony Academy, and is senior director of development at the Mercy Foundation.

FREE reservations can be made beginning December 8, and are limited to the first 100 respondents. Visit and click on EVENT RESERVATIONS.

The Art Center will broadcast the piano performance on Facebook Live. If you do not consent, please do not make a reservation or attend the performance.

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