In this closeup video, Nicholas Hall introduces Endless Enigma and comments on Wallace Putnam’s Mask of the Traveler (1935). A specialist in the field of Old Masters and nineteenth-century art, Hall has collaborated with David Zwirner to organize this critically-acclaimed exhibition, on view through October 27 at the 20th Street gallery. Taking as its point of departure Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, Alfred H. Barr Jr.’s legendary show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1936, Endless Enigma draws on international museum and private collections to present more than 130 works from the twelfth century to the present day.
Presented in Barr’s original exhibition and now owned by David Bowie's estate, Putnam’s sculpture features miscellaneous items the artist gathered while walking to and from work—things, as he explained to the art critic Henry McBride, "that spoke to me." A review in The Art Newspaper notes that "A particular pleasure of [Endless Enigma] are its discoveries of little known and anonymous artists, notably Mask of the Traveler . . . with its seemingly random application of found street objects anticipating Robert Rauschenberg’s assemblages that would come 25 years later."