During the early 1900’s, the art world was experiencing perhaps the most ambiguous and confusing movement to date. Painters, poets, sculptors, etc. were beginning to dismiss premeditated attempts at being correct with their work while essentially making what could be considered deliberately unfinished or cheap art. This movement is often defined as:
A European artistic and literary movement (1916-1923) that flouted conventional aesthetic and cultural values by producing works marked by nonsense, travesty, and incongruity.
The Dada movement, or Dadaism, was a result of peoples’ reactions to the horrors of World War I and spite for bourgeois values. This campaign of absurdity remains controversial and has created quite the schism amongst artists and critics of all types. Dada enthusiasts push for the celebration of “anti-art” while more traditional opinions, on the other hand, question the validity of one avoiding accuracy and craft on purpose. In short, Dada art often invites the audience to complete or interpret the art however they please because the artist is often indifferent to any criticism.
(1919) Marcel Duchamp draws over a Mona Lisa postcard, calls it art. The title LHOOQ serves as a pun when pronounced in French (“She’s hot in the arse.”). This piece has an overwhelming lack of artistry and is one of the most defining works of the Dada movement.
(1919) Raoul Hausmann‘s mechanical head (or The Spirit of our Time) is a great example of the collage-like approach many Dada artists used. Found objects, photographs and products started to appear in works more often around this time.
(1916) Hans Jean Arp‘s painting Lion has a clear lack of anatomical accuracy and invites viewers to imagine the animal for themselves. Arp, a pioneer in the Dada movement, once stated:
“A painting or sculpture not modeled on any real object is every bit as concrete and sensuous as a leaf or a stone… but it is an incomplete art which privileges the intellect to detriment of the senses.”
(1923) This painting by Max Ernst Ubu Imperator was made with adequate attention to detail; the hands are painted well, the line work is consistent, and the background environment is believable. However, the subject matter is quite vague and almost overwhelming, challenging the viewer to make sense of it.
So that brings me to my initial point included in the title of this article. You know, the wild and seemingly foolish claim that Lil B is in fact a modern day Dada artist, which means his work could loosely be considered Fine Art.
Unless you’ve been watching golf for the past 10 years, you’ve probably noticed that Hip Hop music is in a peculiar situation, perhaps equally as ambiguous and confusing as the years of Dada. Since the industry’s introduction to the internet, musicians of all genres have taken a significantly different approach to marketing their music. Many artists, like Lil B, have been able to find success independently via social networking as opposed to relying on the labels. With dozens of mixtapes, hundreds of music videos, and nearly 1 million Twitter followers he has built quite the cult following. He also wrote a book and did a lecture at NYU. As simple or bad as one might want to deem his music, his work ethic is inarguably remarkable.
As ridiculous as his résumé, lyrics and demeanor may be I do believe there is legitimate artistry behind what he has been doing. He doesn’t feel the need to appear at the VMAs, he makes music to enforce positivity contrary to past events in his life, he trolls the antics of other rappers, you either love him or you hate him and that’s basically it. Not only has he made internet history while inspiring young people to channel Dadaism into their lives, but he did it by his own rules in a fashion no one else has ever pulled off.
An extensive collection of almost all Lil B’s album/ mixtape covers.
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One of his most recent jams No Black Person Is Ugly.
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And of course, one of his more ratchet yet topical songs Fuck Kevin Durant.
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Lastly, one of his most Dada performances Total Recall.
article by Charlie Tiene