Duchamp and Lichtenstein ride again – the week in art

The Barbican revisits the moment four US geniuses – Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns – discovered the work of the dadaist grandmaster, plus the prince of pop art is back. It's your weekly dispatch from the artistic frontline

Exhibition of the week: The Bride and the Bachelors

Among a dazzling constellation of exhibitions, this is the most welcome and unexpected – an opportunity to seriously engage with what is arguably the most important and influential moment in art in the last 60 years. In the 1950s, a group of American geniuses – composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – became fascinated by dada, the early 20th-century modern movement that delighted in chance and the random, in found objects and images, in obliterating the distance between art and life. The most enigmatic dadaist, Marcel Duchamp, was at that time little-known and had officially retired from making art, but his works and ideas provoked intense creativity in these Americans. The resulting explosion of brilliance led to much of the art of today, from installation to performance, and produced some of the most enduring modern masterpieces. This great moment is being explored at Barbican not just through works of art but also a season of dance, speech, music and live art.
Barbican Art Gallery, London EC2Y, until 9 June

Other exhibitions this week

Roy Lichtenstein
The prince of pop art is guaranteed to raise a smile in this fizzing retrospective that mostly concentrates, wisely, on his tremendous works from the 1960s.
Tate Modern, London SE1, from 21 February until 27 May

Becoming Picasso
While the Barbican celebrates Duchamp, here's a glimpse of a still greater 20th-century innovator at a formative moment.
Courtauld Gallery, London WC2R, until 26 May

RB Kitaj
The "diasporist" modern history painter has two exhibitions concurrently, with the other part at the Jewish Museum in London.
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, from 23 February until 16 June

Knock Knock
The opening exhibition at this new seaside art gallery features artists who have connections with Hastings, including the gifted Alessandro Raho.
Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, until 17 April

Masterpiece of the week

Pablo Picasso's Head of a Woman (Fernande) (1909).
Pablo Picasso's Head of a Woman (Fernande) (1909). Photograph: B Christopher/Alamy Photograph: B Christopher/Alamy

Head of a Woman (Fernande) (1909) by Pablo Picasso
It's as if Picasso has made this sculpture from the inside out, with his eyes closed, feeling his way towards a mesmerising intuition of his lover's presence. Jagged, intense, and characterful, it is one of the most moving portraits created in the 20th century.
Tate Modern, London SE1

Image of the week

Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No 2) (1912), at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No 2) (1912), at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photograph: Graydonw/Succession Marcel Duchamp, 2013, ADAGP/Paris, DACS/London Photograph: Graydonw/Succession Marcel Duchamp, 2013, ADAGP/Paris, DACS/London

What we learned this week

That this year's just-announced Serpentine summer pavilion will fit right in with the clouds

Which artworks understand love the best

That a newly authenticated portrait of Elizabeth I shows her wrinkles and all for the first time

That Rosemarie Trockel has brought her whole universe into the Serpentine Gallery in London

What portraits of Elton John and Steve Jobs made with chewing gum look like

And finally ...

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Contributor

Jonathan Jones

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