Dadaism – Concept, characteristics, authors and works

We explain what Dadaism is, what is the historical context and the characteristics of this movement. Authors, representatives and works.

The Dada movement was considered an “anti-art” or an anti-aesthetic movement..

What is Dadaism?

It is understood by Dadaism, Dada movement or simply Dada to a artistic-cultural movement that emerged in the Switzerland of the early twentieth century with the express intention of rebelling against the literary and artistic conventions that he considered bourgeois, and the positivist philosophy that accompanied them and his idea of ​​reason. This movement later spread to the fields of sculpture, painting and even music, its manifestations being called Dada art.

The term dadaism comes from the word “dada”, invented by its founders, in which they summarized the philosophy of the movement: the commitment to absurdity, nonsense and opposition to everything that would refer to a rationalist perspective on life. In this sense, the Dada movement was considered as an “anti-art” or an anti-aesthetic movement, for which gestures and acts were very frequent, as well as the works themselves. That is to say, it was a movement with a spirit of denial, of opposing it and provoking the established order.

Historical context of Dadaism

Dadaism - Hugo Ball
Hugo Ball is considered the founder of Dadaism.

Dadaism emerged in Europe, but had many followers in the United States and other parts of the globe. Its origin is assumed in Switzerland in 1916, at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, and as its founder Hugo Ball, although the most iconic writer of the movement was the Romanian Tristán Tzara, who later joined it. Perhaps that is why it was initially presented as more than an aesthetic movement: as a way of life, and a constant questioning of the existence of art and poetry, so that deep down it even questions itself.

This movement embodied the disenchantment and desire for change in the Europe of the First World War, and indeed its founders became known as refugees from the conflict. To this should be added the passivity and social apathy of interwar society, attacked by Dada artists through a combative and renovating spirit.

Characteristics of Dadaism

Dadaism defended chaos and imperfection.

Dadaism opposes the idea of ​​eternal beauty, to the laws of logic and the immobility of thought, and sowed the seeds of the constant questioning of modern art regarding what is or is not art, poetry or beauty.

Dadaism he was provocative, scandalous, and defended chaos and imperfection against his contrary values. His early writings consisted of chains of letters and words for which it was difficult to find an obvious logic, or in which the fanciful, the doubtful, death, and the mixture predominated, which would later take shape under the technique of collage or use of unusual materials in the plastic arts.

This spirit was summed up in his name and in the word “dada”, whose meaning is not at all clear but which, in principle, would have occurred to Tristán Tzara in 1916, who would have been enthusiastic about its resemblance to the babbling of children who are just beginning to speak, or it is even suggested that he would have opened a dictionary to a random page and chosen the strangest term, which It turned out to be “dada”, a term used in French for a certain type of workhorse. If anything, this was irrelevant to the Dadaists, as will be understood, given their appreciation for nonsense and provocation.

Authors and representatives of Dadaism

The movement was founded by the German Hugo Ball (1886-1927), but its most iconic representative was the Romanian Tristán Tzara (1896-1963). Other renowned exponents from various artistic disciplines were the French Jean Arp (1887-1966) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), and they collaborated with their publications Guillaume Apollinaire (French, 1880-1918), Fillippo Tommaso Marinetti (Italian, 1876-1944), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920) and Vasili Kandinski (Russian, 1866-1944). The movement also had the sympathies of the poets André Bretón (French, 1896-1966) and Giaccomo Ungaretti (Italian, 1888-1970).

Dada works and poems

The Dada movement ventured more than anything into poetry and the plastic arts, being its most famous works of these disciplines. Some of them are:

  • “Fountain” (1917) by Marcel Duchamp. It is the famous urinal that the French artist presented in an exhibition under the pseudonym “R. Mutt ”.
  • “LHOOQ” (1919) by Marcel Duchamp. A parody of Davinci’s famous Gioconda, to which the artist painted mustaches and the acronym LHOOQ underneath, which when spelled in French sounds like “she has heat in her butt”.
  • “Collage with squares ordered according to the laws of chance” (1916) by Jean Arp. Literally what is advertised in the title, on a gray background.

And here are some Dada poems:

  • “To Make a Dadaist Poem” by Tristan Tzara

Get a newspaper. Get a pair of scissors.

Pick an article in the newspaper the length you plan to give your poem.

Cut out the article.

Then carefully cut out each of the words that make up that article and put them in a bag.

Shake it gently.

Then take out each cutout one after the other.

Thoroughly copy the poem in the order it came out of the bag.

The poem will resemble you.

And you are “an infinitely original writer and a bewitching sensibility, although misunderstood by the common people.”

  • “Air is a root” by Jean Arp

The stones are full of entrails. Bravo. Bravo.
the stones are full of air.
The stones are branches of water, in the stone that occupies the place of the mouth sprouts
a thorny leaf. Bravo.
a voice of stone is hand in hand and foot by foot
with a look of stone.

the stones are tormented like the flesh.
stones are clouds because their second nature
dances them on their third nose. Bravo. Bravo.

when the stones are scratched, nails grow at the roots.
Bravo. Bravo.
the stones have ears to eat the exact time.