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World War I

World War I

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World War I

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  1. World War I 1914-1918. The war involved the major European powers of the time, and spread to European colonies around the world. More than 15 million deaths. An estimated 8 million were civilian casualties. Some 62 million soldiers took part in the war. Nearly 20 million soldiers were wounded. Humanity had never before seen death and destruction on such a massive scale. Source: • Video on the aftermath: • Video on Shell Shock: Sources:

  2. How did people in Europe react and respond to WWI? ( (

  3. One response came from Dada… • Dada: An artistic and literary movement which began with international artists in war-neutral Zürich, Switzerland, active from 1916-1922. • Dada is said to have begun at the Cabaret Voltaire, a tavern owned by the poet Hugo Ball, in Zürich. • The Cabaret Voltaire attracted artists who had come from all over Europe to neutral Zürich to escape the war. • Dadaists were “United in their frustration and disillusionment with the war and their disgust with the culture that allowed it, the Dadaists felt that only insurrection and protest could fully express their rage. • ‘The beginnings of Dada,’ Tristan Tzara remarked, "were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust.’ • As Marcel Janco recalled: ‘We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished. We would begin again after the tabula rasa. At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking the bourgeois, demolishing his idea of art, attacking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short, the whole prevailing order.’” (Hoffman 2001, np.) • Dadaism spreads its ideas to other cities in Europe and New York largely through Dadaist journals and publications. • At the end of WWI in 1918, many Zürich Dadaists returned to their home cities furthering the spread of Dadaism. • The movement reached a peak in 1920 when many of the original founders came to Paris. • In the following years Dada would merge with Surrealism, and other artistic movements. Sources: Hoffman, I. Documents of Dada and Surrealism. Der Dada 3, ed. Raoul Hausmann (Berlin, April 1920), cover. Hannah Höch, Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany, 1919, collage of pasted paper.

  4. Dada Quotes: • “In Zürich in 1915 losing interest in the slaughterhouses of the world war, we turned to the Fine Arts. While the thunder of the batteries rumbled in the distance, we pasted, we recited, we versified, we sang with all our soul. We searched for an elementary art that would, we thought, save mankind from the furious folly of these times”. Hans Arp (source: • “We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished. We would begin again after the “tabula rasa”. At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short the whole prevailing order.” Tristan Tzara (source:

  5. Tristan Tzara • Tzara (b.1896, Moinesti, Romania-d. 1963, Paris France). • Poet, essayist and playwright, Tzara is best know for his role as one of the principal and founding figures of Dada. • Tzara was one of the international artists who came together at the Cabaret Voltaire. • By the end of WWI Tzara had taken up the role as one of Dada’s main voices. • He wrote numerous essays, poems, plays and took part in many controversial performances. Sources:

  6. Tzara’s directions for making a Dadaist poem: To make a Dadaist poem: Take a newspaper. Take a pair of scissors. Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem. Cut out the article. Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag. Shake it gently. Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag. Copy conscientiously. The poem will be like you. And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar. -Tristan Tzara (source: