Last year, the rapper Jay-Z invited what seemed to be half the art world to New York’s Pace Gallery to participate in the music video for his song “Picasso Baby.” Standing out among the famous artists, gallerists, actors and filmmakers was a man wearing a giant Minotaur head. This was artist Marcel Dzama, whose chimerical stunt perfectly reflected his sensibility in its absurdity, its collaborative approach and its deference to previous generations. (The bull’s head was an homage to Picasso’s own spirit animal.)
But Dzama is no clever music-video cameo. Discovered at 24 by David Zwirner, the artist, now 40, is at the center of a fecund community of hipster creatives hawking transformative nostalgia: He’s partnered with Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze, designed album covers for Beck and illustrated a collection by writer Nick Hornby. His insistence on collaboration, amid the soloists of Generation Me, is a throwback to the Dadaist collectives he often quotes. To wit: The invitation for his new show, “Une Danse des Bouffons (A Jester’s Dance),” at Zwirner’s New York gallery (September 9 to October 25), is a hand-addressed vinyl record with music by members of Arcade Fire. The show’s reference-laden centerpiece, the 17-minute film Jester’s Dance, is a meditation on and a reexamination of Dzama’s hero, Marcel Duchamp (see “Marcel Duchamp at the Pompidou”), which also borrows heavily from Picabia and Beuys and stars Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
By reinterpreting the work of his forebears, Dzama inscribes himself in the art-historical cannon while noting, with touching Canadian modesty, that “like an exquisite corpse drawing, I’m just adding my little footnote to the huge mountain of what they’ve done.” At 525 and 533 W. 19th St.; davidzwirner.com.