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DADA. Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922.

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Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922.

Literally, the word dada means several things in several languages: "hobbyhorse" in French, “good-bye” or “get off my back” in German

and "yes yes” in Slavic.

Some authorities say that the name Dada is a nonsensical word chosen at random from a dictionary.

No War

Dada was, officially, not a movement, its artists not artists and its art not art.

Dada was a literary and artistic attitude born in Europe at a time when the shocking tragedies of World War I were happening in their own lives.

These citizens were furious that the advanced European society would allow the war to have happened.

They were so angry, in fact, that they undertook the time-honored tradition of protesting.

The Machine Age is a term associated mostly with the early 20th century.

The Machine Age and WWI

greatly affected the world of art.

Banding together in a loosely-knit group, these writers and artists used any public forum they could find to (metaphorically) spit on nationalism, rationalism, materialism and any other -ism which they felt had contributed to a senseless war.

photo montage by Raoul Hausmann


leading member was Marcel Duchamp,

who in 1913

created his first


the "Bicycle Wheel," consisting of a wheel mounted on the seat

of a stool.

Dada artists typically produced art objects in

different forms produced by

unusual methods.

They often used collage and assemblage of

everyday mechanical objects.

“Fountain” (1917) by Frenchman Marcel Duchamp; photograph by Alfred Stieglitz.

Duchamp took this postcard of “the Mona Lisa” and painted a mustache on it.

As if the mustache and beard weren't enough of a poke at this most famous of paintings, the letters he penciled — L.H.O.O.Q.— at the bottom are meaningless in English, but when read aloud in French means: "She has a hot“behind”."

(he thought, why should an artists want to contribute time and effort to a society in the face of such brutality)

“Mechanical Head “,1919


*mannequin head *aluminum cup

*brass & cardboard labels *part of a telescope

*a pipe

*dressmaker's measure

*a watch gear-wheel

*a printing roller,…

Raoul Hausmann

Raoul Hausmann (Austrian)

Hausmann used new techniques in many mediums, shocking juxtapositions, collages, and

nonsensical writings.

Also, various abstract art styles developed during the 20th century, as the realm of the real in art was taken over by photography.

“Two Ambiguous Figures”, 1920

(ambiguous - having a double meaning)

Max Ernst Germany

“Murdering Airplane”

Man Ray: “Violin”

In the U.S. the movement was centered in New York at famous photographer, Alfred Stieglitz's gallery, “291”.

Dada-like activities

were created by

American artist/photographer, Man Ray and French artist, Francis Picabia.

Portrait of Francis Picabia by Man Ray

“Love Parade” 1917

Francis Picabia

Francis Picabia


“Machine Turn Quickly”


Man Ray, American

(working in France)

Kurt Schwitters, German

“Das Undbild”, 1919 ("The And-Picture")

George Grosz, also a German Expressionist










Dada had only one rule:

Never follow any known rules.

Dada self-destructed

when it was in danger

of becoming "acceptable".

Dadaism developed

into the more popular


Oedipus Rex, 1922

Max Ernst

To be continued ...

Collage can go beyond the

two-dimensional format.

A three-dimensional collage is called an assemblage.



(one-sided) sculpture





in the round

viewed from

all angles



One of the most famous assemblage artists was American artist, Louise Nevelson.

Louise Nevelson is known for her Abstract Expressionist “crates” grouped together to form a new creation.

She used found objects or everyday discarded things in her “assemblages”, one of which was three stories high.

"When you put together things that other people have thrown out, you’re really bringing them to life – a spiritual life that surpasses the life for which they were originally created."

Nevelson often worked in shallow-relief, and often monochromatically.Nevelson's work is not easily allied with any one movement, though it has been variously linked to Cubism, Dada, and Abstract Expressionism.

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