Dadaism (descended from French dadaisme, dada – a wooden horse; figuratively – incoherent baby talk) is a modernist literary and artistic movement of 1916-1922, which is characterized by conscious irrationalism and demonstrative anti-aesthetism. It was born during the First World War in Zurich (Switzerland), as a reaction to the consequences of the war, the brutality of which, according to the Dadaists, emphasized the meaninglessness of existence. Rationalism and logic were declared one of the main culprits of devastating wars and conflicts. Based on this, the Dadaists believed that modern European culture should be destroyed through the decomposition of art. The most famous Dadaists: Hans Arp (1886-1966), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Max Ernst (1891-1976), Philip Supo (1897-1990), Tristan Tzara (1896-1963).
DADA in Zurich (1916-1919). The birth date of this movement is considered to be 1916, the year in Zurich “Cabaret Voltaire” gathered together Hugo Ball, Richard Gulzenbek, Marcel Janko, Jean Art and Tristan Tzara, who came up with the name of the new association and wrote the “Dada Manifesto”. The main form of self-expression of the Dadaists was various actions – noisy evening performances, planned “events” that mystified the public and provoked it to respond. In addition, they used traditional methods of propaganda: they published the Dada magazine, whose editor was Ball, gave lectures, published their poetic essays, and numerous brochures written in the form of speeches and spells. In 1917, Ball and Gulzenbek, and a year later, Tzara left the group. It ceased to exist, giving way to the Berlin association.
DADA in Berlin (1981-1920). In 1917, a group of Dadaists was organized in Berlin, headed by Gulzenbek. The activities of this group had a pronounced socio-critical and anti-militaristic orientation, since it mainly included artists who held the position of open confrontation with respect to power – Georg Gross, John Hartfield, Hana Hoech, Johannes Baader. The main means of artistic expression were a pamphlet, a political poster, a caricature, a photo montage, a leaflet in which communist and anarchist ideas supplanted the spontaneous spirit of denial of the Zurich group.
DADA in Hanover (1919 – 1923). The movement in Hanover is connected exclusively with the activities of the Dutchman Kurt Schwitters, author and creator of unusual Merz works. Arguing that the boundaries between species in contemporary art are smoothed, which leads to their complete disappearance, Schwitters put forward the concept of “Merz” as a single principle in art, freeing the artist from all shackles and leading him to creative creation.
DADA in Cologne (1919-1922). The key figures of the Cologne group, which formed its unique face, were artists Max Ernst and Jean Arp. The main form of their activity was the performance, put on the Zurich model, and exhibitions. In 1920, the most scandalous exhibition in the history of Dada took place, the premises of which could only be accessed through the men’s toilet at the cafe. In the center of the hall stood a girl in biblical clothes and read obscene verses, and viewers could destroy exhibits while watching, which corresponded to the concept of dada, which denied the value of art.
DADA in New York (1913-1921). The history of American Dadaism began with the infamous 1913 Armory Show, which featured works by European artists Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia.
Picabia created fantastic designs, whose names and biomechanical appearance were both a hymn and a sentence to industrial society. His work had a significant impact on J. Arpa and M. Ernst. Duchamp became famous as the author of the concept of “ready made” (finished objects) – objects of industrial and production, artistic will transformed into works of art. This theory made it clear that art is an idea that can be embodied in a finished object, and not just created by an artist or sculptor.
DADA in Paris (1919-1924). In 1919, Duchamp and Picabia met Tzar and together moved to Paris, where they joined a group of young poets and artists who rallied around Andre Breton. Paris period 1920-1922 became the time of the new heyday of Dadaism – again with all kinds of noisy shows, exhibitions, proclamations of various kinds of declarations and manifestos. However, a conflict was brewing within the group: Breton and his supporters were no longer in a scandal for the sake of scandal and the spirit of universal denial. A plan for creating a new association with concrete tasks and a clear perspective was ripening in his head. In 1923, a final break occurred, leading to the emergence of a new direction – surrealism. Dadaism was forced to fade into the background and gradually withdraw from the art arena.
Masters of Dadaism: Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Jean Arp, Mark Ernst, Kurt Schwitters, Hahn Hoech, Raul Hausmann, Geogre Gross, John Hartfield.