What is Dadaism?

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

  1. What is Dadaism?

Dadaism is understood as a movement given or simply given to an artistic-cultural movement that emerged in Switzerland in the early twentieth century with the express intention of rebelling against the literary and artistic conventions that it considered bourgeois, and the positivist philosophy that accompanied them and his idea of ​​reason. This movement then extended to the fields of sculpture , painting and even music, becoming its manifestations as art dada.

The term Dadaism comes from the word “Dada”, invented by its founders, in which they summed up the philosophy of the movement: the commitment to the absurd, to the nonsense and to the opposition to everything that referred to a rationalist perspective of life . In that 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, to oppose it and provoke the established order.

  1. Historical context of Dadaism

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

Dadaism arose in Europe, but had many adherents 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 Tristan Tzara, who subsequently 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 in the end it even questions itself.

This movement embodied the disenchantment and desire for change in the Europe of the First World War , and in fact its founders became known as refugees from the conflict . To this it is necessary to add the passivity and social apathy of the interwar society , attacked by the Dada artists through a combative and renewing spirit.

  1. Dadaism characteristics

Dadaism defended chaos and imperfection.

Dadaism opposes the idea of ​​an eternal beauty , 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 was provocative, scandalous, and defended chaos and imperfection against its contrary values . His first writings consisted of chains of letters and words to which it was complex to find an obvious logic, or in which the fanciful, the doubtful, the 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 clear at all but that, in principle, would have occurred to Tristan Tzara in 1916, who would have been excited by his resemblance to the babble of children. They are just beginning to speak, or it is even suggested that they would have opened a dictionary on a random page and chosen the strangest term, which turned out to be “dada,” a term used in French for a certain type of workhorse . In any case, this was irrelevant to the Dadaists, as will be understood, given their appreciation for nonsense and provocation.

  1. Authors and representatives of Dadaism

The movement was founded by the German Hugo Ball (1886-1927) , but its most iconic representative was the Romanian Tristan tzara (1896-1963). Other renowned exponents from different artistic disciplines were the French Jean Arp (1887-1966) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), and 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 Breton (French, 1896-1966) and Giaccomo Ungaretti (Italian, 1888-1970).

  1. Works and poems of Dadaism

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

  • “Source” (1917) by Marcel Duchamp. This is the famous urinal presented by the French artist in an exhibition under the pseudonym “R. Mutt. “
  • “LHOOQ” (1919) by Marcel Duchamp. A parody of the famous Gioconda de Davinci, to which the artist painted mustaches and the acronym LHOOQ below, which when spelled in French sounds like “she is hot in the butt”.
  • “Collage with squares arranged according to the laws of chance” (1916) by Jean Arp. Literally what he announces in the title, on a gray background.

And then some Dadaist poems:

  • “To make a Dadaist poem” by Tristan TzaraTake a newspaper.Pick up scissors.

    Choose in the newspaper an article of the length you intend 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 cut one after another.

    Consciously copy the poem in the order in which they came out of the bag.

    The poem will resemble you.

    And you are “an infinitely original writer with a spellbinding, though misunderstood, vulgar sensibility.”

  • “The air is a root” by Jean ArpThe stones are full of entrails. Bravo. Bravo.
    The stones are full of air.
    The stones are branches of water.A
    prickly leaf sprouts in the stone that occupies the place of the mouth . Bravo.
    A stone voice is hand in hand and foot on foot
    with a stone look.

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

    when the stones are scratched they grow nails in the roots.
    Bravo. Bravo.
    The stones have ears to eat the exact time.

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