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Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zürichmarker, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literaturepoetry, art manifestoes, art theorytheatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. Its purpose was to ridicule what its participants considered to be the meaninglessness of the modern world. In addition to being anti-war, dada was also anti-bourgeois and anarchistic in nature.

Dada activities 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. The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including surrealism, Nouveau réalisme, pop art, Fluxus and punk rock.
Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of antiart to be later embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism.

—Marc Lowenthal, translator's introduction to Francis Picabia's I Am a Beautiful Monster: Poetry, Prose, And Provocation

Overview

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.
Many Dadaists believed that the 'reason' and 'logic' of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war. They expressed their rejection of that ideology in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality. For example, George Grosz later recalled that his Dadaist art was intended as a protest "against this world of mutual destruction."

According to its proponents, Dada was not art, it was "anti-art." For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics, the Dadaists hoped to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics.

As dadaist Hugo Ball expressed it, "For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in."

A reviewer from the American Art News stated at the time that "The Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man." Art historians have described Dada as being, in large part, "in reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide."

Years later, Dada artists described the movement as "a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path. [It was] a systematic work of destruction and demoralization...In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege."

History

Origin of the word Dada

One explanation maintains that it originates from the Romanianmarker artists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco's frequent use of the words da, da, which, translated into English is equivalent to yeah, yeah, as in a sarcastic or facetious yeah, right. (Da in Romanian strictly translates as yes.)

Some believe that it is simply a nonsensical word.

Another theory is a group of artists assembled in Zürichmarker in 1916, wanting a name for their new movement, chose it at random by stabbing a French-German dictionary with a paper knife, and picking the name that the point landed upon. Dada in French is a child's word for hobby-horse. In French the colloquialism, c'est mon dada, means it's my hobby.

According to the Dada ideal, the movement would not be called "Dadaism", much less designated an art-movement.

Zürich

In 1916, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Jean Arp, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Sophie Täuber, Hans Richter, along with others, discussed art and put on performances in the Cabaret Voltairemarker expressing their disgust with the war and the interests that inspired it. By some accounts Dada coalesced on October 6 at the cabaret. By other accounts Dada did not spring full-grown from a Zürich literary salon but grew out of an already vibrant artistic tradition in Eastern Europe, particularly Romania, that transposed to Switzerland when a group of Romanian modernist artists Tzara, Marcel & Iuliu Iancu, Arthur Segal, and others, settled in Zürich. Because Bucharest and other cities had already been the scene of Dada-like poetry, prose and spectacle in the years before WW1., this suggests Dada came from the East.

The artists were in "neutral" Zürich, Switzerlandmarker, having left Germany and Romania during the happenings of WWI. It was here that they decided to use abstraction to fight against the social, political, and cultural ideas of that time that they believed had caused the war. Abstraction was viewed as the result of a lack of planning and logical thought processes.

"[A]bstract art signified absolute honesty for us." - Richard Huelsenbeck

At the first public soiree at the cabaret on July 14, 1916, Ball recited the first manifesto (see text). Tzara, in 1918, wrote a Dada manifesto considered one of the most important of the Dada writings. Other manifestos followed.

Marcel Janco recalled,
We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished. We would begin again after the "tabula rasa". At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short, the whole prevailing order.


A single issue of Cabaret Voltaire was the first publication to come out of the movement.

After the cabaret closed down, activities moved to a new gallery, and Ball left Europe. Tzara began a relentless campaign to spread Dada ideas. He bombarded French and Italian artists and writers with letters, and soon emerged as the Dada leader and master strategist. The Cabaret Voltairemarker has by now re-opened, and is still in the same place at the Spiegelgasse 1 in the Niederdorf.

Zürich Dada, with Tzara at the helm, published the art and literature review Dada beginning in July 1917, with five editions from Zürich and the final two from Paris.

When World War I ended in 1918, most of the Zürich Dadaists returned to their home countries, and some began Dada activities in other cities.

Berlin

Cover of Anna Blume, Dichtungen, 1919
The groups in Germany were not as strongly anti-art as other groups. Their activity and art was more political and social, with corrosive manifestos and propaganda, satire, public demonstrations and overt political activities. It has been suggested that this is at least partially due to Berlin's proximity to the front, and that for an opposite effect, New York's geographic distance from the war spawned its more theoretically-driven, less political nature.

In February 1918, Huelsenbeck gave his first Dada speech in Berlin, and produced a Dada manifesto later in the year. Hannah Höch and George Grosz used Dada to express post-World War I communist sympathies. Grosz, together with John Heartfield, developed the technique of photomontage during this period. The artists published a series of short-lived political journals, and held the First International Dada Fair, 'the greatest project yet conceived by the Berlin Dadaists', in the summer of 1920. As well as the main members of Berlin Dada, Grosz, Raoul Hausmann, Höch, Johannes Baader, Huelsenbeck and Heartfield, the exhibition also included work by Otto Dix, Francis Picabia, Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Rudolf Schlichter, Johannes Baargeld and others. In all, over 200 works were exhibited, surrounded by incendiary slogans, some of which also ended up written on the walls of the Nazi's Entartete Kunst exhibition in 1937.Despite high ticket prices, the exhibition made a loss, with only one recorded sale.

The Berlin group published periodicals such as Club Dada, Der Dada, Everyman His Own Football , and Dada Almanach.

Cologne

In Cologne, Ernst, Baargeld, and Arp launched a controversial Dada exhibition in 1920 which focused on nonsense and anti-bourgeois sentiments. Cologne's Early Spring Exhibition was set up in a pub, and required that participants walk past urinals while being read lewd poetry by a woman in a communion dress. The police closed the exhibition on grounds of obscenity, but it was re-opened when the charges were dropped.

New York



Like Zürich, New York Citymarker was a refuge for writers and artists from World War I. Soon after arriving from France in 1915, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia met American artist Man Ray. By 1916 the three of them became the center of radical anti-art activities in the United States. American Beatrice Wood, who had been studying in France, soon joined them, along with Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Arthur Cravan, fleeing conscription in France, was also present for a time. Much of their activity centered in Alfred Stieglitz's gallery, 291, and the home of Walter and Louise Arensberg.

The New Yorkers, though not particularly organized, called their activities Dada, but they did not issue manifestos. They issued challenges to art and culture through publications such as The Blind Man, Rongwrong, and New York Dada in which they criticized the traditionalist basis for museum art. New York Dada lacked the disillusionment of European Dada and was instead driven by a sense of irony and humor. In his book Adventures in the arts: informal chapters on painters, vaudeville and poets Marsden Hartley included an essay on "The Importance of Being 'Dada'".

During this time Duchamp began exhibiting "readymades" (found objects) such as a bottle rack, and got involved with the Society of Independent Artists. In 1917 he submitted the now famous Fountain, a urinal signed R. Mutt, to the Society of Independent Artists show only to have the piece rejected. First an object of scorn within the arts community, the Fountain has since become almost canonized by some. The committee presiding over Britainmarker's prestigious Turner Prize in 2004, for example, called it "the most influential work of modern art." In an attempt to "pay homage to the spirit of Dada" a performance artist named Pierre Pinoncelli made a crack in The Fountain with a hammer in January 2006; he also urinated on it in 1993.

Picabia's travels tied New York, Zürich and Paris groups together during the Dadaist period. For seven years he also published the Dada periodical 391 in Barcelonamarker, New York City, Zürich, and Paris from 1917 through 1924.

By 1921, most of the original players moved to Paris where Dada experienced its last major incarnation (see Neo-Dada for later activity).

Paris

The French avant-garde kept abreast of Dada activities in Zürich with regular communications from Tristan Tzara (whose pseudonym means "sad in country," a name chosen to protest the treatment of Jews in his native Romania), who exchanged letters, poems, and magazines with Guillaume Apollinaire, André Breton, Max Jacob, Clément Pansaers, and other French writers, critics and artists.

Paris had arguably been the classical music capital of the world since the advent of musical Impressionism in the late 19th century. One of its practitioners, Erik Satie, collaborated with Picasso and Cocteau in a mad, scandalous ballet called Parade. First performed by the Ballet Russes in 1917, it succeeded in creating a scandal but in a different way than Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps had done almost 5 years earlier. This was a ballet that was clearly parodying itself, something traditional ballet patrons would obviously have serious issues with.

Dada in Paris surged in 1920 when many of the originators converged there. Inspired by Tzara, Paris Dada soon issued manifestos, organized demonstrations, staged performances and produced a number of journals (the final two editions of Dada, Le Cannibale, and Littérature featured Dada in several editions.)

The first introduction of Dada artwork to the Parisian public was at the Salon des Indépendants in 1921. Jean Crotti exhibited works associated with Dada including a work entitled, Explicatif bearing the word Tabu. In the same year Tzara staged his Dadaist play The Gas Heart to howls of derision from the audience. When it was re-staged in 1923 in a more professional production, the play provoked a theatre riot (initiated by André Breton) that heralded the split within the movement that was to produce Surrealism. Tzara's last attempt at a Dadaist drama was his "ironic tragedy" Handkerchief of Clouds in 1924.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands the Dada movement centered mainly around Theo van Doesburg, most well known for establishing the De Stijl movement and magazine of the same name. Van Doesburg mainly focused on poetry, and included poems from many well-known Dada writers in De Stijl such as Hugo Ball, Hans Arp and Kurt Schwitters. Van Doesburg became a friend of Schwitters, and together they organized the so-called Dutch Dada campaign in 1923, where Van Doesburg promoted a leaflet about Dada (entitled What is Dada?), Schwitters read his poems, Vilmos Huszàr demonstrated a mechanical dancing doll and Nelly Van Doesburg (Theo's wife), played avant-garde compositions on piano.

Van Doesburg wrote Dada poetry himself in De Stijl, although under a pseudonym, I.K. Bonset, which was only revealed after his death in 1931. 'Together' with I.K. Bonset, he also published a short-lived Dutch Dada magazine called Mécano.

Georgia

Although Dada itself was unknown in Georgiamarker until at least 1920, from 1917-1921 a group of poets called themselves "41st Degree" (referring both to the latitude of Tbilisimarker, Georgia and to the temperature of a high fever) organized along Dadaist lines. The most important figure in this group was Iliazd, whose radical typographical designs visually echo the publications of the Dadaists. After his flight to Paris in 1921, he collaborated with Dadaists on publications and events.

Tokyo

There was also a Dada movement in Japanmarker . One group is MAVO, founded by Tomoyoshi Murayama and Yanase Masamu. Others are Jun Tsuji, Eisuke Yoshiyuki, Shinkichi Takahashi and Katsue Kitasono.

Yugoslavia

In Yugoslavia there was heavy Dada activity between 1920 and 1922 run mainly by Dragan Aleksic and including Mihailo S. Petrov, Zenitist's two brothers Ljubomir Micic and Branko Ve Poljanski. Aleksic used the term "Yugo-Dada" and is known to have been in contact with Raoul Hausmann, Kurt Schwitters, and Tristan Tzara.

Poetry; music and sound

Dada was not confined to the visual and literary arts; its influence reached into sound and music. Kurt Schwitters developed what he called sound poems and composers such as Erwin Schulhoff, Hans Heusser and Albert Savinio wrote Dada music, while members of Les Six collaborated with members of the Dada movement and had their works performed at Dada gatherings. The above mentioned Erik Satie dabbled with Dadaist ideas throughout his career although he is primarily associated with musical Impressionism.

In the very first Dada publication, Hugo Ball describes a "balalaika orchestra playing delightful folk-songs." African music and jazz was common at Dada gatherings, signaling a return to nature and naive primitivism.

Legacy

While broad, the movement was unstable. By 1924 in Paris, Dada was melding into surrealism, and artists had gone on to other ideas and movements, including surrealism, social realism and other forms of modernism. Some theorists argue that Dada was actually the beginning of postmodern art.

By the dawn of World War II, many of the European Dadaists had fled or emigrated to the United States. Some died in death camps under Hitler, who persecuted the kind of "Degenerate art" that Dada represented. The movement became less active as post-World War II optimism led to new movements in art and literature.

Dada is a named influence and reference of various anti-art and political and cultural movements including the Situationists and culture jamming groups like the Cacophony Society.

At the same time that the Zürich Dadaists made noise and spectacle at the Cabaret Voltairemarker, Vladimir Lenin wrote his revolutionary plans for Russia in a nearby apartment. Tom Stoppard used this coincidence as a premise for his play Travesties (1974), which includes Tzara, Lenin, and James Joyce as characters. French writer Dominique Noguez imagined Lenin as a member of the Dada group in his tongue-in-cheek Lénine Dada (1989).

The Cabaret Voltaire fell into disrepair until it was occupied from January to March, 2002, by a group proclaiming themselves neo-Dadaists, led by Mark Divo. The group included Jan Thieler, Ingo Giezendanner, Aiana Calugar, Lennie Lee and Dan Jones. After their eviction the space became a museum dedicated to the history of Dada. The work of Lennie Lee and Dan Jones remained on the walls of the museum.

Several notable retrospectives have examined the influence of Dada upon art and society. In 1967, a large Dada retrospective was held in Paris, Francemarker. In 2006, the Museum of Modern Artmarker in New York City held a Dada exhibition in conjunction with the National Gallery of Artmarker in Washington D.C. and the Centre Pompidoumarker in Paris.

Art techniques developed

Collage

The dadaists imitated the techniques developed during the cubist movement through the pasting of cut pieces of paper items, but extended their art to encompass items such as transportation tickets, maps, plastic wrappers, etc. to portray aspects of life, rather than representing objects viewed as still life.

Photomontage

The Berlin Dadaists - the "monteurs" (mechanics) - would use scissors and glue rather than paintbrushes and paints to express their views of modern life through images presented by the media. A variation on the collage technique, photomontage utilized actual or reproductions of real photographs printed in the press.

Assemblage

The assemblage were three-dimensional variations of the collage - the assembly of everyday objects to produce meaningful or meaningless (relative to the war) pieces of work.

Readymades

Marcel Duchamp began to view the manufactured objects of his collection as objects of art, which he called "readymades". He would add signatures and titles to some, converting them into artwork that he called "readymade aided" or "rectified readymades". One such example of Duchamp's readymade works is the urinal that was turned onto its back, signed "R. Mutt", titled "Fountain", and submitted to the Society of Independent Artists exhibition that year.

See also





Footnotes

  1. de Micheli, Mario(2006). Las vanguardias artísticas del siglo XX. Alianza Forma. p.135-137
  2. [1] Dada biographies NGA, Washington DC. Retrieved July 15, 2009
  3. Marc Dachy, Dada & les dadaïsmes, Paris, Gallimard, "Folio Essais", n° 257, 1994.
  4. Aurélie Verdier, L'ABCdaire de Dada, Paris, Flammarion, 2005.
  5. Tom Sandqvist, DADA EAST: The Romanians of Cabaret Voltaire, London MIT Press, 2006.
  6. Dada, Dickermann, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2006 p443
  7. Dada, Dickermann, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2006 p99
  8. "Duchamp's urinal tops art survey", BBC News December 1, 2004.
  9. Marc Dachy, Dada, la révolte de l'art, Paris, Gallimard / Centre Pompidou, "Découvertes" n° 476 , 2005.
  10. [2]Impossible Histories Historic Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant-Gardes, and Post-Avant-Gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918-1991, Edited by Dubravka Djuric and Misko Suvakovic, pp.18, 71,132, retrieved July 15, 2009
  11. 2002 occupation by neo-Dadaists Prague Post


References

  • The Dada Almanac, ed Richard Huelsenbeck [1920], re-edited and translated by Malcolm Green et al., Atlas Press, with texts by Hans Arp, Johannes Baader, Hugo Ball, Paul Citröen, Paul Dermée, Daimonides, Max Goth, John Heartfield, Raoul Hausmann, Richard Huelsenbeck, Vincente Huidobro, Mario D’Arezzo, Adon Lacroix, Walter Mehring, Francis Picabia, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, Alexander Sesqui, Philippe Soupault, Tristan Tzara. ISBN 0 947757 62 7
  • Blago Bung, Blago Bung, Hugo Ball's Tenderenda, Richard Huelsenbeck's Fantastic Prayers, & Walter Serner's Last Loosening - three key texts of Zurich ur-Dada. Translated and introduced by Malcolm Green. Atlas Press, ISBN 0 947757 86 4
  • Ball, Hugo. Flight Out Of Time (University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1996)
  • Dachy, Marc. Journal du mouvement Dada 1915-1923, Genève, Albert Skira, 1989 (Grand Prix du Livre d'Art, 1990)
  • _____. Dada & les dadaïsmes, Paris, Gallimard, Folio Essais, n° 257, 1994.
  • _____. Dada, la révolte de l'art, Paris, Gallimard / Centre Pompidou, Découvertes n° 476 , 2005.
  • _____. Archives Dada / Chronique, Paris, Hazan, 2005.
  • Dada, catalogue d'exposition, Centre Pompidou, 2005.
  • Durozoi, Gérard. Dada et les arts rebelles, Paris, Hazan, Guide des Arts, 2005
  • Hoffman, Irene. Documents of Dada and Surrealism: Dada and Surrealist Journals in the Mary Reynolds Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Huelsenbeck, Richard. Memoirs of a Dada Drummer, (University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1991)
  • Lemoine, Serge. Dada, Paris, Hazan, coll. L'Essentiel.
  • Lista, Giovanni. Dada libertin & libertaire, Paris, L'insolite, 2005.
  • Melzer, Annabelle. 1976. Dada and Surrealist Performance. PAJ Books ser. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. ISBN 0801848458.
  • Richter, Hans. Dada: Art and Anti-Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1965)
  • Sanouillet, Michel. Dada à Paris, Paris, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1965, Flammarion, 1993, CNRS, 2005
  • Schneede, Uwe M. George Grosz, His life and work (New York: Universe Books, 1979)
  • Verdier, Aurélie. L'ABCdaire de Dada, Paris, Flammarion, 2005.


External links

Manifestos



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