History of Dada Art Movement Research Paper

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History Of Dada Art Movement

There is a long list of movements that were begun for the sake of art, for instance cubism and surrealism. These two movements experienced grave criticism as they touched nihillism. On the other hand, movements like Dada have been admired and honored by the majorities (MobileReference).

If truth be told, the early 20th century brought a turbulent and disorderly change in the world. The First World War and the Russian Revolution tainted people's understanding of their worlds in an overwhelming manner. This new mind set of people was strongly reflected in the early twentieth century art movements as well. They were all, if seen in technical terms, were boldly modern and groundbreaking. In order to look into and explore the structure of realization, these movements moved further than the unruffled surface of traditional painting. However, perhaps Dada must be looked for its most compelling explorations of the modern psyche. It was a movement that put a great emphasis on mental investigation (Hopkins 1).

What is Dada?

According to Columbia Encyclopedia (2009), Dada or Dadaism was a nihilistic movement that was internationally began in 1916 by the European artists and writers and lasted till 1922. It was born due to the pervasive disenchantment and dissatisfaction of World War I. With the poetry written by, Tristan Tzara, a well-known Romanian poet, the movement was originated in Zurich. The main purpose of the movement was to molest and assault the conservative and straight standards of aesthetics and behavior. It was also aimed towards attacking the stressed illogicality and meaninglessness encouraged by the traditional art. In addition to these, Dadaists set out to abolish the role played by changeableness and volatility in artistic creation. In Berlin, however, the political implications instigated Dada. On the other hand, the Dadaists in France had more emphasis on attacking the literature. Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Man Ray were those Dadaists who were responsible for taking the spirit of the Movement to New York City ("Dada").

Dada principles, in due course, altered to pave way for a new movement known as Surrealism that was started in 1924 ("Dada").


It was during the World War I that the term 'Dada' was used for the first time. The World War I, if truth be told, was that great event which paved way for the movement that started in 1916 and ended in 1923. Tristan Tzara is known as the chief personality who started the movement. The birth place of the Dada movement is the old city of Zurich, Switzerland.The country also recognized by the names of 'Niederdorf' and 'Niederdorfli' is now resided in by dadaist unlawful residents from time to time. According to Dadaists, the movement they began was not an art movement. It was an anti-war movement "sometimes using found objects in a manner similar to found poetry and labeling them art, thus undermining ideas of what art is and what it can be" (MobileReference). This perception of 'anti-war' is thought to be based on the emptiness inflicted by the post-war scenarios that lacked any passion and meaning in life.

At several occasions, Dadaists have been found to pay attention to aesthetic guidelines with the only purpose of avoiding them. They endeavored hard to turn their works into something that lack meaning and artistic value. The Dadaists' tendency to undervalue and bring down art has caused many to criticize this movement as a nihilistic movement. Many claim that Dada Movement has not helped in creation but in destruction. The ideas prevailed that the consequences of war and destruction have made people fail to recognize the value of creation and aesthism (MobileReference).

Dadaists believed that their anti-war movement is making everything dwindling and shaking. Therefore, they chose the name of their movement as DADA (meaning "yes, yes" in Russian and Romanian) after a baby phrase. The Dadaists, thus, did everything that could weaken and destabilize art in the twentieth century (MobileReference). In fact, the name "Dada" was chosen because it had no meaning. The absence of its meaning was the major factor why its creators chose this meaningless name for the movement.

How did the Movement Start?

The Dada Art Movement was a literary and artistic movement that was started at a time when the dreadfulness and terror of World War I had made the lives of people dejected, miserable and wretched. The war had assembled a good number of artists, writers and intellectuals (mostly of French and German origin) as refugees in Zurich (Essak). Hugo Ball, Cabaret Voltaire, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, Hans/Jean Arp Sophie Taeuber, Richard Huelsenbeck, Walter Serner Hans Richter, and Viking Eggeling were some of the eminent poets, writers and intellectuals whose efforts and endeavors caused the Dada Movement to bloom and expand (Hopkins 6).

These men and women were, however, not relieved with their escapes. Instead, the congregation was pretty annoyed and bothered by the reality that the modern society of Europe had allowed the war to have take place. Their anger was so unbearable that they decided to take on the long-established and conventional artistic custom of protesting (Essak). According to Tzara, the Dada Movement was born because its creators had an urge for independence. Those people didn't trust unity. They wanted to uphold and preserve their freedom. They were not on familiar terms with any theory. They had created their own cubist and futurist academies where formal ideas were formulated (Tzara 250).

The loosely-knit intellectuals grouped together to record their remonstrations and disapprovals. They used every public forum to they could find to show their extreme dislike and detestation for nationalism, rationalism, materialism etc. which, according to them, had played major roles in catalyzing the war. Simply put, the Dadaists were unhappy and depressed with the war and its consequences. Their motto was to go against the society and the direction in which it was going as they said 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 Dada and The Dadaists

Despite the fact that these non-artists had disagreements regarding everything, they had one thing in common; their ideals. They used early forms of Shock Art to devalue art it in front of the general public. The Dadaists plunged serene indecencies, filthy and obscene funniness, visual witticisms and everyday objects in their so-called art. The most notable among those Dadaists was Marcel Duchamp who made the most outrageous, disgraceful and offensive paintings. On one of the copy of the Mona Lisa, he put a mustache. Not only this, beneath the painting he scribbled a lewd comment. He presented and displayed a disgusting sculpture before the public. This sculpture was a urinal, sans plumbing entitled Fountain (Essak). However, this sickening and nauseating article vanished somewhere and was never put in on any exhbition. The fountain was refused on grounds that not only the so-called work of art by Duchamp was immoral and vulgar but it was the replica of a plumbing piece (Duchamp 817).

Other than that, Arp, KurtSchwitters, and Max Ernst produced graceful, stylish and well-designed collages from ordinary objects like rejected scraps of paper. On the other hand, the gibberish and ridiculous poems were the main literary manifestations of Dada. These poems were mostly composed of pointless random words and the Dadaists read these poems in public with great pride ("Dada").

Such displays in the name of art were like a slap in the face of public who were completely put off by the actions of the Dadaists. However, the refusal and disappointment of the people encouraged the Dadaists extremely. This eagerness, passion and zeal was transmittable. Thus, the (non)movement extended to various other parts of Europe and New York City from Zurich. The Dada Movement was based on a single rule i.e. not to follow any rules that are known and acknowledged (Essak). In his 1918 manifesto, Tzara, the father of the movement, openly asks the Dadaists to follow no rule. He says "I detest greasy objectivity, and harmony, the science that finds everything in order. Carry on, my children, humanity . . . Science says we are the servants of nature: eve rything is in order, make love and bash your brains in. Carry on, my children, humanity, kind bourgeois and journalist virgins . . .I am against systems, the most acceptable system is on principle to have none" (Tzara 251).

It had a purpose to aggravate and inflame an arousing reaction from the viewers. The artistic work done under this movement meant to make people shocked or outrageous. Whenever the art did not succeed in rubbing traditionalists in the wrong way, Dada used odious and hateful writing to hurt the feelings. The manifestoes especially those written by Tristan Tzara attested a very well step taken in this regard as a Plan B (Essak). In his manifesto published in 1918, Tzara writes "A…[continue]

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