Dadaism . Direction of bourgeois art and literature emerged in the years 1915 – 1916 among artists, from different countries, who had emigrated to Switzerland fleeing the horrors of the First World War (the poets Tristan Tzara , Richard Hülsenbeck , Jean Cocteau ; painters Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp , Joan Miró , Paul Klee , Max Ernst , Francis Picabia , etc.). [one]

In the anarchic protest of the Dadaists against the inhumanity of the war, the social impotence of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia that tried to explain the clashes of class and the sufferings of people by a bestial principle inherent in man was revealed . [one]

Among the aesthetic principles that served as a practical norm for Dadaism were: the pathos (more precisely, the psychosis ) of destruction; the coincidence of images and themes led to the absurd; the cynicism . Hence the Dadaists used such anti-artistic resources as upside-down typographic characters, combinations of meaningless sounds or pieces of paper and glass glued to the canvas of the painting. Most of the Dadaists adhered to abstractionism and also surrealism, of which they were the immediate predecessors. [one]


[ hide ]

  • 1 Emergence
  • 2 Definition
  • 3 Features
  • 4 Artists
  • 5 Origin of the name of dadá
  • 6 Dad in New York (1915-1920)
  • 7 Dadá in Berlin
  • 8 References
  • 9 Sources


It arises with the intention of destroying all the codes and systems established in the art world. It is an anti-artistic, anti-literary and anti-poetic movement, since it questions the existence of art, literature and poetry. It is presented as a total ideology, as a way of living and as an absolute rejection of any previous tradition or scheme. It is against eternal beauty, against the eternity of principles, against the laws of logic, against the immobility of thought and against the universal. The dadaists promote a change, the freedom of the individual, spontaneity, the immediate, the random, the contradiction, they defend chaos against order and imperfection against perfection.

The Dada as they also call it was an anti-art movement that emerged in Zurich ( Switzerland ) in 1916 started by Tristan Tzara , which was characterized by feelings of protest against literary conventions, an attitude of total mockery for literary artistic manifestations, gestures and demonstrations provocative in which artists sought to destroy all conventions regarding art, creating a kind of anti-art or rebellion against the order established at that time in the early and mid- twentieth century , in the periods of the First and beginning of the WWII. The Dadaist poem is usually a succession of words and sounds, making it difficult to find logic.


It is distinguished by: the inclination towards the doubtful, terrorism, death and nihilism, the fantasy, seeks to renew the expression

Dadaism of Tzara and Grosz

by using unusual materials or by handling previously non-mixable thought planes and has a general tone of rebellion or destruction. Characterized by provocative gestures and manifestations in which the artists intended to destroy all conventions regarding art, creating an anti-art. Its origins can be traced back to when a series of artists of different nationalities met as refugees in Zurich during the First World War .


Dada is presented as a total ideology, as a way of living and as an absolute rejection of any previous tradition or scheme. Basically it is anti-humanism, humanism being understood as the previous tradition, both philosophical and artistic or literary. Not coincidentally, in one of his first publications, he had written the following sentence by René Descartes as head : “I don’t even want to know if there was another man before me.

The Dada movement is an anti-artistic, anti-literary and anti-poetic movement because they question the existence of art, literature and poetry. By definition, they question Dadaism itself.

Dada manifests against eternal beauty, against the eternity of principles, against the laws of logic, against the immobility of thought, against the purity of abstract concepts and against the universal in general.

Instead, he advocates the unbridled freedom of the individual, spontaneity, the immediate, current and random, the chronicle against timelessness, the contradiction, the no where others say yes and the yes where others say no; defends chaos against order and imperfection against perfection. Therefore in its negative rigor it is also against Modernism , that is, Expressionism , Cubism , Futurism and Abstractionism , ultimately accusing them of being substitutes for what has been destroyed or is about to be destroyed.

Dada aesthetics denies reason, meaning, the construction of the conscious. Its expressive forms are gesture, scandal, provocation. For dadá poetry is in action and the borders between art and life must be abolished.

The expansion of the Dada message was intense, wide and had repercussions in all artistic fields. In Germany he found followers among the intellectuals and artists who supported the Spartacist movement (revolutionary movement that attempted a socialist revolution). In France he won the sympathies of writers like André Breton , Louis Aragon and the Italian poet Ungaretti.

The permanent contribution of Dadaism to modern art is the continuous questioning of what is art or what is poetry; the awareness that everything is a convention that can be questioned that therefore there are no fixed and eternal rules that historically legitimize the artistic.

Much of what is provocative in today’s art comes from dadá, the mix of genres and materials typical of collage also owe much to dadá. The fundamental difference is that contemporary art takes itself seriously, whereas Dadaism never forgot humor.

In poetry Dadaism opens the field for the arrival of Surrealism and helps create a free and unlimited poetic language. To understand what Dada aesthetics is in the world of poetry, there is nothing better than collecting the advice that Tzara proposes to make a Dadaist poem.

The Dadaist movement left the magazines and I manifest that they are undoubtedly the best proof of their proposals but, by definition, there is no Dada work. The characteristic of Dadaism were the Dada evenings held in cabarets or art galleries in which photomontages were mixed with isolated phrases, words, banners, spontaneous recitals and a continuous ceremonial provocation.


Recognized of this movement were: Tristan Tzara and Marcel Jank from Romania , the French Jean Arp and the Germans Hugo Ball , Hans Richtery Richard Huelsenbeck . After several informal meetings in different cafes, the idea of ​​creating an international cabaret began to take shape. The first celebration took place on 5 of February of 1916 in the Cabaret Voltaire, and consisted of a variety show with French and German songs, Russian music, black music and art exhibitions.

In the same year a pamphlet entitled Cabaret Voltaire was published containing contributions by Guillaume Apollinaire , Marinetti , Pablo Picasso , Amedeo Modigliani and Wassily Kandinsky ; on the cover was a drawing by Jean Arp . The Dadá Gallery was opened in 1917 and the publication began with Tristán Tzara.

Origin of the name of dadá

The name Dada was found by chance in a dictionary Ball and Huelsenbeck while they were looking for a stage name for one of the singers: let’s name it Dada “… The first sound the child says expresses primitivism, starting from scratch, what art has of new”.

I call it that Tristan Tzara to mean the “babble” of art: it violently attacked everything that exists in art. It was the first word found in the dictionary, and because it is the first thing a child says, it represents starting from scratch, breaking all the proposed schemes, or followed previously.

Dada in New York (1915-1920)

Duchamp, Picabia , Jean Crotti , as European refugees, along with Americans Man Ray , Morton Schamberg and others give life to the New York Dada. World War I also brought groups of artists and refugees to New York . Among them we must highlight Duchamp and Picabia.

Duchamp arrived from Paris to New York with a gift from the French for the Americans (particularly for the collector Walter Arensberg ) that consisted of a crystal ball with Parisian air. It was the beginning of the ready-mades (a bicycle wheel mounted on a stool, a bottle rack, a chamber pot, etc.), objects taken from reality and placed in the sphere of art by the simple action and will of the artist. The aesthetic delight was beyond his intentions and the choice of objects:

These refugees integrated with the avant-garde currents that since the beginning of the century were brewing in Harlem , Greenwich Village and Chinatown . Although New York was not Zurich, nor was there such a climate of political refugees from the Swiss city, the iconoclastic spirit. Most Dadaist artists had nihilistic thinking.

In 1913 the International Exhibition of Modern Art, better known as the Armory Show, took place in New York. There, the Nude descending a staircase by Marcel Duchamp caused a real commotion and was described as a masterpiece by Breton . Duchamp became the black beast of modern art. Marcel Duchamp has gone down in history as one of the most enigmatic and intelligent artists.

Marcel Duchamp. The big glass

Duchamp’s most important work is The Married Woman Naked by Her Singles . Already known as the great glass . In this work, among other things, Duchamp uses techniques in which he shows his concern for the mathematical correctness in the use of forms. The piece is preceded in its realization process by a multitude of drawings in which it calculated all the details with mathematical precision, as if it were a machine.

He also uses chance when admitting as part of the piece the breaks it suffered in 1923 when it was transferred to an exhibition in Brooklyn. Duchamp said that this did not alter the piece, but it was then that he considered it finished. Duchamp, from 1921 , abandoned art to devote himself to chess.

Man Ray developed Dadaism in painting, photography, and in the manufacture of anti-art objects. Hans Richter defines him as a pessimistic inventor, transforming objects that surrounded him into useless objects, creating works with subtitles such as: “object to be destroyed”, or “taking pictures without a camera”.

In March 1915 the magazine 291 was born by Picabia and Stieglitz. The name of the magazine had been taken from the number of the house occupied by an art gallery on Fifth Avenue. The magazine puts the ideas of anti-art on the table: an absolute disrespect for all values, liberation from all social and moral conventions and destruction of everything that is known as art. For Duchamp and Picabia, art is dead; Dadá wanted the disintegration of reality and the ready-mades are not art but anti-art.

The Dada movement in New York will have significant support from photographer Alfred Stieglitz, his gallery 291 and his magazine Camera Work. For Stieglitz and the group of young photographers he brought together under the movement known as Photo Secession, photography could also be seen and made as art, and not simply as a means of reproducing reality. Thus, Stieglitz became one of the forerunners of modern photography.

Dada in Berlin

In Germany it is where Dadá acquires a more markedly political aspect. Ideologically, the positions of the Dadaist artists were communist and, in some cases, anarchists. After the war, Germany enters a critical situation. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the German Spartacist party – the socialist left – also tried the revolution in Germany. In all this social upheaval a group of artists are going to join the leftist thesis: it will be the Dada movement.

Hailing from Zurich group Richard Huelsenbeck brings the Dadaist spirit to Berlin, but much more radical against the earlier avant-garde schools of Futurism, Cubism. In 1918 , in the Hall of the New Secession, Huelsenbeck gave the first Dada speech in Germany, in first solidarity with the Dadaists in Zurich and then violently attacking Cubism , Expressionism and Futurism. Shortly thereafter he produced the first Dadaist manifesto in Germany. Huelsenbeck with the poet Raoul Hausman promotes statements and manifests from the “dadá Club”.

The Dadá club was joined by Kurt Schwitters , Georg Grosz , Hanna Höch and the Herfelde brothers. The painter Georg Grosz had marked political tendencies.

The constitution of the Weimar Republic in 1919 marks the end of Dadaist political projects and the re-positioning of this group in artistic settings.

The Berlin Dada movement will go down in history for the incorporation of new artistic techniques for the dissemination of ideas among the masses, mainly photomontage. The Dadaists used the technique of photomontage and collage to capture the reality that surrounded them, using visual material taken from the media.


Leave a Comment