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Dadaism(dä`däĭzəm), international nihilistic movement among European artists and writers that lasted from 1916 to 1922. Born of the widespread disillusionment engendered by World War I, it originated in Zürich with a 1916 party at the Cabaret Voltaire and the recitation of nonsense poetry by the Romanian Tristan TzaraTzara, Tristan
, 1896–1963, French writer, b. Romania. He studied at the Univ. of Zürich, where he and his friends formulated the dadaist movement initially as a pacifist statement (see Dada).
..... Click the link for more information. , also the author of the Dada Manifesto. Dada attacked conventional standards of aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation. In Berlin, Dada had political overtones, exemplified by the caricatures of George GroszGrosz, George
, 1893–1959, German-American caricaturist, draughtsman, and painter, b. Berlin. Before and during World War I he contributed drawings on proletarian themes to Illustration and other German periodicals. He was associated with the Dada group at that time.
..... Click the link for more information. and Otto DixDix, Otto,
1891–1969, German painter and draftsman. Dix fought in World War I and returned to Düsseldorf haunted by the horrors he had witnessed. In 1924 he published War, a series of 50 etchings, horrifying visions of war's victims executed with great clarity.
..... Click the link for more information. . The French movement was more literary in emphasis; it centered around Tzara, André BretonBreton, André
, 1896–1966, French writer, founder and theorist of the surrealist movement. He studied neuropsychology and was one of the first in France to publicize the work of Freud.
..... Click the link for more information. , Louis AragonAragon, Louis
, 1897–1982, French writer. One of the founders of surrealism in literature, Aragon abandoned that philosophy for Marxism after a trip to the USSR in 1931.
..... Click the link for more information. , Jean ArpArp, Jean or Hans,
1887–1966, French sculptor and painter. Arp was connected with the Blaue Reiter in Munich, various avant-garde groups in Paris, including the surrealists, and the Dadaists in Zürich.
..... Click the link for more information. , Marcel DuchampDuchamp, Marcel
, 1887–1968, French painter, brother of Raymond Duchamp-Villon and half-brother of Jacques Villon. Duchamp is noted for his cubist-futurist painting Nude Descending a Staircase,
..... Click the link for more information. , Francis PicabiaPicabia, Francis
, 1878–1953, French painter. After working in an impressionist style, Picabia was influenced by cubism and later was one of the original exponents of Dada in Europe and the United States.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Man RayRay, Man,
1890–1976, American photographer, painter, and sculptor, b. Philadelphia. Along with Marcel Duchamp, Ray was a founder of the Dada movement in New York and Paris. He is celebrated for his later surrealist paintings and photography.
..... Click the link for more information. . The latter three carried the spirit of Dada to New York City. Typical were the elegant collages devised by Arp, Kurt SchwittersSchwitters, Kurt
, 1887–1948, German artist, b. Hannover. Influenced by Kandinsky, by Picasso's reliefs, and by Dada constructions, he invented Merz [trash] constructions—arrangements of diverse materials and objects.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Max ErnstErnst, Max
1891–1976, German painter. After World War I, Ernst joined the Dada movement in Paris and then became a founder of surrealism. Apart from the medium of collage, for which he is well known, Ernst developed other devices to express his fantastic vision.
..... Click the link for more information. from refuse and scraps of paper, and Duchamp's celebrated Mona Lisa adorned with a mustache and a goatee as well as his Fountain (1917), a urinal signed "R. Mutt." Dada principles were eventually modified to become the basis of surrealismsurrealism
, literary and art movement influenced by Freudianism and dedicated to the expression of imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and free of convention.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1924. The literary manifestations of Dada were mostly nonsense poems—meaningless random combinations of words—which were read in public.
See R. Short, Dada and Surrealism (1980); S. C. Foster, ed., Dada-Dimensions (1985); H. Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1985); R. Motherwell, ed., The Dada Painters and Poets (1951, 2d ed. 1989); A. Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide (2009); J. Rasula, Destruction Was My Beatrice (2015).