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Hans Richter Collection of Dada Art


Just a few years before the Neuberger Museum of Art opened to the public, Hans Richter wrote and published his book, Dada: Art and Anti-Art, where the artist reflected on 50 years since the emergence of the Dada movement in the art world. At this time, the Neo-Dada art movement began making way, looking back at Dada for inspiration.

Like Richter and Neo-Dada artists, the museum is currently reflecting back on its own 50-year history.


Richter is recognized as one of the major figures of avant-garde art in the early 20th century. His work in the Dada style specifically, and his passion for organizing exhibitions that revived an interest in Dada, is one of his strongest legacies. One key element of Dada that Richter was particularly interested in was the notion of an artist giving ‘chaos’ a sense of ‘order.’ In Richter’s work especially, this sense of ‘organized chaos’ or ‘controlled spontaneity’ skillfully shows itself.

Enter, abstract expressionist Cleve Gray.

While Richter was deeply analyzing how avant-garde art coped with the chaos of the state of the world, Gray was reacting via Threnody, in our Theater Gallery. It’s important to note that even though Neo-Dada artists were utilizing mass media imagery, found objects and performance, Threnody still directly speaks to the Vietnam War, and a universal hymn to the dead – quite literally what Threnody translates to. In 1971, as the Museum was undergoing construction and Gray was preparing for Threnody, Richter published his eponymous monograph, Hans Richter, which was edited by his good friend and colleague, Cleve Gray. Two years following the Museum’s opening, Richter passed away.

The Museum has correspondence in its archives pointing to the strong friendship between these two men. It was Gray who was responsible for encouraging Richter to make his bequest to the Museum – comprised mainly of Richter’s own works. Having this collection is also a treasure, as much of Richter’s early work was confiscated and destroyed during a Nazi raid in 1933.

Rem Ribeiro
Rebecca Elisabeta Marya Ribeiro
Curatorial Assistant
Neuberger Museum of Art


June 5, 2024