Revenge of the Dadaists
“It’s not Dada that is nonsense—but the essence of our age that is nonsense.”—The Dadaists
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in neutral Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1920. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature (poetry, art manifestos, art theory), theater, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti war politic through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works.
In 1916, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Jean Arp, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Sophie Täuber, and Hans Richter, along with others, discussed art and put on performances in the Cabaret Voltaire expressing their disgust with the war and the interests that inspired it.
“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.”Marcel Janco
The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature, poetry, art manifestoes, art theory, theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. In addition to being anti-war, Dada was also anti-bourgeois and had political affinities with the radical left.
“Art has nothing to do with taste. Art is not there to be tasted.” —Max Ernst
“Dada exhibition. Another one! What’s the matter with everyone wanting to make a museum piece out of Dada? Dada was a bomb … can you imagine anyone, around half a century after a bomb explodes, wanting to collect the pieces, sticking it together and displaying it?”—Max Ernst,
“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”—Marcel Duchamp
“Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.”—Richard Huelsenbeck
“Leave everything. Leave Dada. Leave your wife. Leave your mistress. Leave your hopes and fears. Leave your children in the woods. Leave the substance for the shadow. Leave your easy life, leave what you are given for the future. Set off on the roads.”—Andre Breton
“Dada doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo. Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada. Anti-dadaism is a disease: selfkleptomania, man’s normal condition, is Dada. But the real dadas are against Dada.”—Tristan Tzara