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Dadaism. What is Dada?. The DADA movement started in Zurich Switzerland in 1916 towards the end of World War I. Hugo Ball established a musical theatre called “cabaret voitaire ”, this attracted other artists who had moved to avoid the war.

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what is dada
What is Dada?

The DADA movement started in Zurich Switzerland in 1916 towards the end of World War I. Hugo Ball established a musical theatre called “cabaret voitaire”, this attracted other artists who had moved to avoid the war.

Dadaists rejected the old artistic structures and set out to shock and outrage their audiences , the artwork set out to shock more than any previous art movement. Dada rejected established institutions and expressed their beliefs through different forms, from performance art to poetry, graphic designs, sculpture and collage.

They introduced new techniques and materials and showed subjects that reflected change in modern life. The most radical of their techniques were seen as avant- garde.

“How is one to define, let alone confine a movement which cannot be identified with any one personality or place, viewpoint or subject, which affects all the arts, which has a continually shifting focus and is more over intentionally negative, ephemeral, illogical and inconclusive ?”

influences on dada
Influences on Dada

The Dadaists were angry with Europe and society for allowing World War I to occur. The group was formed to go against this and groups of people who they felt contributed to the war.

Artistic influences came from Abstract Art, Expressionism, Cubism and to a lesser extent, Futurism.

andr breton
André Breton
  • Andr Breton was born in 1896 in Normandy France, he studied at medical school and was always interested in mental illness.
  • He was conscripted into the French army during WW1 where he worked in psychiatric wards of military hospitals.
  • He read the writings of Freud and met him in 1921,he was influenced by symbolist poets - Arthur Rimbaud and Charles

Baudelaire and politically by Karl

Marx (communist)

marcel duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
  • Influences from Early Life – the family home was decorated with prints by his grandfather – a successful artist, and the family interests included music, literature and art. Although they both studied other subjects, his two older brothers became artists, while his sister also showed an interest in painting however was never allowed training. While studying at art school he sold cartoons to publishers - their “satirical or humorous context and the use of accompanying text” are characteristics which influenced his adult style
  • Main Influences – Cezanne, Matisse, Cubism, Symbolism, Abstractionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism
  • Later Work – this included ‘readymades’ – he took ordinary everyday objects and “placed it so its usual significance disappeared…created a new thought for that subject.” “Using prefabricated objects freed him from the ‘trap’ of developing a particular style or taste.”
max ernst
Max Ernst


  • He became fascinated with the art of psychotics
  • He was influenced by events that happened in his life such his sisters death
  • Horrors of World War One had a lasting impact which he combined with his personal experiences, he used art to process these experiences and combat his fears
  • Van Gogh, Macke and Sigmund Freud influenced him. Especially the books by Freud on dreams


  • “I decided then to investigate the symbolism of this obsession and in order to aid my meditative and hallucinations” – Max Ernst talking about his obsession with phycology.
man ray
Man Ray
  • Man Ray was influenced by Alfred Stieglitz, he visited his Gallery often. He was exposed to cubism in 1913 at the Armory show. He met Marcel Duchamp, brought his first camera. His close 55 years of friendship influenced their work and resulted in collaborative creative endeavors. He joined the Parisian Dada group and then the Surrealists. He always present of the avantgarde; new and unusual or experimental ideas e.g arts, culture and politics.
  • His major contributions fall into the categories of painting, sculpture and photography, including film.
  • His work was mainly paintings, sculpture and photography; including film. His work included readymades, assisted readymades, and assorted assemblages; readymades is a term coined by Marcel Duchamp and, in its most correct use, applied to his work, alone, between 1913 to 1921. From Dada going forward, "ready-made" has been understood to be a common, mass-produced object, such as the urinal and bicycle wheel Duchamp so famously used.--often more complex than they seemed--involving complicated puns and hidden implications. His objects, he said, were always "designed to amuse, annoy, bewilder, mystify, inspire reflection, but not to arouse admiration for any technical excellence usually sought or valued in objects classified as works of art."




  • Dada & Surrealism – Robert Short
  • Dada & Surrealism – Matthew Short