Dada 1916 – 1922

Artistic and literary movement launched in Zurich in 1916 but shared by independent groups in New York, Berlin, Paris, and elsewhere The Dadaists channelled their revulsion at World War I into an indictment of the nationalist and materialist values that had brought it about They were united not by a common style but by a rejection of conventions in art and thought, seeking through their unorthodox techniques, performances, and provocations to shock society into self-awareness The name Dada itself was typical of the movement’s anti-rationalism Various members of the Zurich group are credited with the invention of the name; according to one account it was selected by the insertion of a knife into a dictionary and was retained for its multilingual, childish, and nonsensical

Dada or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland at the Cabaret Voltaire (circa 1916); New York Dada began circa 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical left

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There is no consensus on the origin of the movement’s name; a common story is that the Austrian artist Richard Huelsenbeck plunged a knife at random into a dictionary, where it landed on “dada”, a colloquial French term for a hobby horse Others note that it suggests the first words of a child, evoking a childishness and absurdity that appealed to the group Still others speculate that the word might have been chosen to evoke a similar meaning (or no meaning at all) in any language, reflecting the movement’s internationalism

The roots of Dada lay in pre-war avant-garde The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 to characterize works which challenge accepted definitions of art Cubism and the development of collage and abstract art would inform the movement’s detachment from the constraints of reality and convention The work of French poets, Italian Futurists and the German Expressionists would influence Dada’s rejection of the tight correlation between words and meaning Works such as Ubu Roi (1896) by Alfred Jarry, and the ballet Parade (1916–17) by Erik Satie would also be characterized as proto-Dadaist works The Dada movement’s principles were first collected in Hugo Ball’s Dada Manifesto in 1916

The Dadaist movement included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a variety of media Key figures in the movement included Hugo Ball, Marcel Duchamp, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Huelsenbeck, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Man Ray, Beatrice Wood, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Richter, and Max Ernst, among others The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, pop art and Fluxus

Dada was an informal international movement, with participants in Europe and North America The beginnings of Dada correspond to the outbreak of World War I For many participants, the movement was a protest against the bourgeois nationalist and colonialist interests, which many Dadaists believed were the root cause of the war, and against the cultural and intellectual conformity—in art and more broadly in society—that corresponded to the war