Collaborative Works from Dada to Now

13. 5. — 24. 9. 2023


There has hardly been a time when the idea of working in a team and bundling different compe­ten­cies was as omnipre­sent and popular as it is today. Long before artists in the field of art formed permanent colla­bo­ra­tive duos or collec­tives, the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in parti­cular saw the emergence of colla­bo­ra­tive works of art from a wide variety of personal, artistic, and histo­rical backgrounds. The exhibi­tion Friendships. Colla­bo­ra­tive Works from Dada to Now explores the condi­tions and temporal constel­la­tions that led acquain­tances, close confi­dants, friends, lovers, or even compe­ti­tors to devote themselves to a colla­bo­ra­tive work process for a limited period of time.

Especially in retro­spect, it is easy to idealize the collegial together­ness and the genesis of the artwork. Not only enjoyable colla­bo­ra­tion, but also (compe­ti­tive) disputes among friends brought to light the most progres­sive ideas and new artistic methods. The fighting out of disputes, as well as complex amorous relati­ons­hips, also accom­pa­nied the process that led to perhaps the most important discovery of the Surrea­lists, the cadavres exquis. With shared author­ship, they signi­fi­cantly changed the paradigm of genuine artistic expres­sion through play charac­te­rized by chance and impro­vi­sa­tion. The Dada artists invented colla­bo­ra­tive action art, which was further developed by the Fluxus artists with new themes. Driven by a common socio-political commit­ment, a group of artists realized the Grand Tableau Antifa­sciste Collectif in 1960 out of solida­rity with an Algerian freedom fighter and to protest against colonia­lism and torture.

Developed in coope­ra­tion with the Mucem – Museum of European and Mediter­ra­nean Civili­sa­tions in Marseille, where the exhibi­tion will be on view through February 13, 2023, the trans­na­tional exhibi­tion project features a spectrum of colla­bo­ra­tively created artworks and is itself, in a sense, the expres­sion of a friendly colla­bo­ra­tion between the curator Blandine Chavanne and the artist Jean-Jacques Lebel as scholarly advisor. The countries of the two partner insti­tu­tions, France and Germany, also share close ties of friendship.

Accom­panying the exhibi­tion, a richly illus­trated book has been published by Hatje Cantz Verlag (ed. Blandine Chavanne and Jean-Jacques Lebel with Andreas Beitin and Jean François Chougnet), which contains essays, detailed texts on the works, and inter­views with renowned authors to present the history and background of the colla­bo­ra­tively created artworks (German and French editions, 304 pages each, approx. 400 illustrations).

Blandine Chavanne

Scholarly Advisor:
Jean-Jacques Lebel

Nusch Éluard, Paul Éluard und unbekannt, Cadavre exquis, ca. 1930 Buntstift auf schwarzem Papier, 32,5 × 24 cm, Sammlung David und Marcel Fleiss, Galerie 1900−2000, Paris, Foto: Galerie 1900–2000, Paris 


In coope­ra­tion with the Mucem – Museum of European and Mediter­ra­nean Civili­sa­tions, Marseille

With kind support by

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