Antipope by Max Ernst

Hitler in Hell by George Grosz

Lodola by Francis Picabia

Dadaism artists

Jean Arp

Marcel Duchamp

George Grosz

Francis Picabia

Man Ray

Christian Schad

What is Dadaism

Dadaism or Dada is a post-World War I cultural movement in visual art as well as literature (mainly poetry), theatre and graphic design. The movement was, among other things, a protest against the barbarism of the War and what Dadaists believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society; its works were characterized by a deliberate irrationality and the rejection of the prevailing standards of art. It influenced later movements including Surrealism.

Dada probably began in the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916 (by some accounts on October 6), and there were active dadaists in New York such as Marcel Duchamp and the Liberian art student, Beatrice Wood, who had left France at the onset of World War I. At around the same time there had been a dadaist movement in Berlin. Slightly later there were also dadaist un-communities in Hanover (Kurt Schwitters), Cologne, and Paris. In 1920, Max Ernst, Hans Arp and social activist Alfred Gr?nwald set up the Cologne Dada group.

Interestingly, at the same time that the Z?rich dadaists were busy making noise and spectacle at the Cabaret Voltaire, Vladimir Lenin was writing his revolutionary plans for Russia in a nearby apartment. It is known that he was unappreciative of the artistic revolutionary activity occurring next to him. Tom Stoppard used this coincidence as a premise for his play Travesties, which includes Tzara, Lenin, and James Joyce as characters.

The French avant-garde kept abreast of Dada activities in Z?rich due to the regular communications from Tristan Tzara, who exchanged letters, poems, and magazines with Guillaume Apollinaire, Andr? Breton, Max Jacob, and other French writers, critics and artists. The first introduction of Dada artwork to the Parisian public was at the Salon des Ind?pendants in 1921. Jean Crotti exhibited works associated with Dada including a work entitled, "Explicatif" bearing the word Tabu.

Dada's influence reached out in to sound and music: Kurt Schwitters developed what he called "sound poems" and composers such as Erwin Schulhoff, Hans Heusser and Albert Savinio began writing "dada music", while members of Les Six collaborated with dada movement members and had pieces played at dada gatherings.

But while broad reaching, the movement was also unstable: artists went on to other ideas and movements, including Surrealism, Socialist Realism and other forms of modernism.

By the dawn of World War II, many of the European Dadaists who remained had fled or been forced into exile in the United States, some died in death camps under Hitler, who personally disliked the kind of radical art that dada represented. The movement became less active as post-World War II optimism led to new movements in art and literature.

The Cabaret Voltaire fell into disrepair until it was occupied by a group claiming to be neo-dadaists in June-August of 2002. After their eviction the Cabaret Voltaire became a museum dedicated to the history of Dada and the Dada movement.

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