It has been since centuries that the Art has existed in this world and has undergone various stages. In simple words, art has got its own historical periods whereby every period has its unique invention and significance. Art has acquired immense success, has reached several milestones and the reason of this tremendous development is due to the improvement in diverse historical periods. The present is always improved by taking history as a source for improvement. History narrates the earlier civilizations through which present learns for the future development. In the same way, art has continued to be the most imperative subject of all cultures; be they ancient or present. The different art periods of diverse varieties have existed since times unknown. In this essay, Dadaism and Surrealism, the two distinctive historical art periods will be elaborated along with their similarities and differences.
As mentioned in Columbia Encyclopedia (2009), Dadaism was a nihilistic movement that started in 1916 on an international level by various European artists and writers. This movement ended in 1922. Dadaism emerged because of the all-encompassing bitterness and disappointment of World War I. The movement originated in Zurich when Tristan Tzara, a well-known Romanian poet, wrote poetry. The movement had the main purpose of bugging and assaulting the conventional standards of arts and conduct. It also had the aim of attacking the frazzled ridiculousness and purposelessness that the traditional art encouraged. Moreover, the supporters of the movement, also known as Dadaists, got started to bring the role played by unpredictability and precariousness in artistic creation to an end. The political implications in Berlin activated Dada whereas the French Dadaists focused their attention towards attacking the literature. In New York, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Man Ray were some popular Dadaists who encouraged the Movement. Ultimately, the Dada principles transformed to give way to a new movement, Surrealism, that was started in 1924 ("Dada," 2009).
As already mentioned, the term 'Dada' was used for the first time during the World War I. The movement was chiefly started by Trisan Tzara in the old city of Zurich, Switzerland. According to Dadaists, they did not begin the movement as an art movement. They started it as an anti-war movement and based it on the worthlessness caused by the post-war scenarios that were severely deficient without having any enthusiasm and importance in life.
Dadaists, at many occasions, paid attention to artistic guidelines with the only purpose of keeping away from them. As a protest, they did every possible thing to transform their works into something that completely lacked sense, significance and artistic worth. Their consistent endeavors to hold art in low esteem and bring it down art has caused a majority of people to criticize this movement and call it nihilistic. According to many, Dada Movement did not help in creation but in destruction (MobileReference, 2007).
The Dadaist's motto and they clearly stated their intentions to go against the society by saying that "we'll have no part of it or its traditions. Including...no, wait!...especially artistic traditions. We, who are non-artists, will create non-art - since art (and everything else in the world) has no meaning, anyway" (as qtd. In Essak).
The Dadaists used early forms of Shock Art so that they could undervalue art before the general public. The Dadaists threw up serene lewdness, dirty and obscene comicalness, visual witticisms and everyday objects in their so-called art. Marcel Duchamp was the most distinguished among the Dadaists who created and displayed most shameful, dishonorable and unpleasant paintings. He put a mustache on a replica of the Mona Lisa. He scribbled a lewd comment beneath the painting. He also presented the disgusting sculpture of a urinal, sans plumbing entitled Fountain before the public (Essak).
To cut a long story short, Dada art is entirely unreasonable, ridiculous and nonsensical to the point of fancy. It did not have any predominant medium as a foundation. The Dadaist movement, however, not only spawned a number of literary journals but also influenced many simultaneous and synchronized trends in the visual arts, principally as far as Constructivism is concerned. Dada is also renowned as being responsible for the movement of Surrealism (Essak).
Surrealism was a literary and art movement that was "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" ("Surrealism," 2009). Andre Breton founded this movement in Paris in 1924 with his Manifeste du surrealism. However, this movement was directly descended from the French poets Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Apollinaire, and Italian painter, Giorgio de Chirico. A good number of its devotees belonged to the Dada movement. The literature in surrealism was restricted more or less absolutely to France. The writers who were the adherents of surrealism had their main focus "in the associations and implications of words rather than their literal meanings; their works are thus extraordinarily difficult to read" ("Surrealism," 2009). As far as art was considered, surrealism became prevailing in the 1920s and 30s and was globally practiced using an assortment of expression. The two renowned surrealists, Salvador Dali and Yves Tanguy used surreal insight of space and bizarre symbols like melting watches and enormous metronomes. Though the movement managed to survive, it diminished to a great extent after World War II ("Surrealism," 2009).
Meret Oppenheim's object (a cup, saucer and spoon covered in fur) is one of the most stunning examples of Surrealism ("ART BOOKS OF THE," 2009, p. 48).
Dada and Surrealism: A Comparison
Despite the fact that Surrealism apparently grew out Dada in Paris, both movements originated in exceptionally different time periods and cultural backgrounds. Dada was a movement founded in the midst of wartime. It was led by a deceived and unskilled elite class who endeavored hard to discover new ways to make original art in innovative ways (Willette, 2011).
Being intentionally anti-dictatorial, Dada did not have any leader. Though there were several spokespersons, there was no specific leader who could guide. Putting philosophy to one side, Dada artists spread across Europe after the end of World War I. As already mentioned, the absence of leaders consequently dissolved Dada in just a few years into new movements. Conversely, Surrealism had Andre Breton as its leader (Willette, 2011).
As Dadaism emerged in an era of dissatisfaction and all-encompassing turmoil, rebelliousness, non-cooperation and antagonism are reflective in Dada practices. This fact linked the Dadaists and their attitudes to the War. On the other hand, Surrealism was founded in an age when peace, tranquility and opulence prevailed. The people had either forgotten or ignored the wounds left behind by the War. It was actually a rational withdrawal of survivors who did not wish to remember anything (Willette, 2011).
Dada was inherently based on facts and realities and was visibly political. In contrast, Surrealism reallocated itself far away from an antagonistic position towards a more imaginary point. Dada artists deliberately used disturbing, troublesome and aggressive tactics. On the other hand, "the Surrealists sought what they called "the Marvelous," or that magically unexpected encounter when the ordinary suddenly became extraordinary" (Willette, 2011).
Dada and Surrealism were similar in the sense that both the movements belonged to writers and poets. Both the movements had visual artists as the principal adherents of the larger intellectual group. However, the difference lies in the fact that Surrealist artists were, to some extent, less inventive and original than the Dadaists. The surrealist painters used very traditional methods and had adopted old-fashioned techniques to sabotage pragmatism by painting dreams as if they were genuine (Willette, 2011).
The crucial difference between Dada and Surrealism is that the surrealists were the seekers of "new meaning, another meaning, an unexpected meaning, a sur-real meaning, but always, Surrealism wants live to mean something" (Willette, 2011).…