The Dadaism was a movement artistic and literary which began in Zurich, Switzerland. It emerged as a reaction between World War I and the nationalism that many believed was responsible for leading them to war. Influenced by other avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, and Expressionism, his production was tremendously diverse, from interpretation to poetry, photography, sculpture, painting, and collage.


What is Dadaism?

It is an artistic movement that was born in Switzerland and that was against the art , the codes and the values that existed at that time, against the First World War and against the established systems. It was an ideology and a way of life for many of his followers.


The aesthetics of Dadaism, marked by the mockery of materialistic and nationalistic attitudes , demonstrated a powerful influence on artists in many cities, including Berlin, Hanover, Paris, New York, and Cologne, who spawned their own groups. The movement dissipated with the establishment of Surrealism , but the ideas it gave rise to became the cornerstones of various categories of modern and contemporary art.


Characteristics of Dadaism

The main characteristics of Dadaism are the following:

  • It arose as a protest against the conventions that existed at the time.
  • They were characterized by presenting an attitude of mockery and humor and were based on absurd things and what had no value.
  • They used means of expression full of satire and ironies and used gestures to incite provocation.
  • The poems that emerged from Dadaism were illogical or could not be understood as they were merely a succession of words and sounds.
  • They liked doubt , being rebellious , destruction , terrorism, death, and nihilism .
  • They encouraged change , freedom of the individual, spontaneity, the immediate, the random, the contradiction, the chaos, the imperfect, the intuition.
  • They were against beauty, eternity, laws, purity, the universal, reason, meaning and they did not believe in the construction of the conscious.
  • They were very negative people who were against modernism, expressionism, cubism , futurism, and abstractionism.
  • They considered that the creative act was of greater importance than the created product.

History of Dadaism

Switzerland was neutral during World War I  and it was in Zurich that Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings founded the Cabaret Voltaire on February 5, 1916 in a tavern on Spiegelgasse. To attract other artists and intellectuals, Ball released a press release that read: Cabaret Voltaire. Under this name a group of young artists and writers was formed with the aim of becoming an artistic entertainment center.

In July of that year, the first afternoon of ” Dada ” (as the movement was also known) was celebrated in which Ball read the first manifesto. There is little agreement on how the word Dada was invented, but one of the most common origin stories is that Richard Huelsenbeck found the name by throwing a knife at random in a dictionary. The term “dada” is a colloquial term in French that means workhorse , but it also refers to a child’s first words, and these suggestions of childishness and absurdity appealed to the group, who were willing to put distance between themselves and themselves. the sobriety of conventional society.

Zurich artists published a magazine and held art exhibitions that helped spread their anti – war and anti-art message . In 1917, after Ball moved to Bern to pursue journalism, Tzara founded the Galerie Dada on Bahnhofstrasse where more Dada evenings were held alongside art exhibitions. T zara became the leader of the movement and began a relentless campaign to spread Dada’s ideas, showering French and Italian writers and artists with lyrics. The group published an art criticand literature entitled Dada from July 1917 with five editions in Zurich and two in Paris. His art focused on performance and printed matter.


One of the most important founders of the Dada movement was named Tristan Tzara and he was born in Romania on April 16, 1896. He lived in France and founded the movement together with Jean Arp and Hugo Ball during the First World War.


It was one of the most important aspects of Dadaism and it eliminated the traditional techniques and forms that had been used. They mainly used the use of collages with different materials and implemented and added different materials that had not been used for quite some time.

Literary art

It was characterized by calling itself a non-movement and by being against art. It was a movement that was dedicated to criticizing society from its origins. They criticized the artistic traditions , structures , genres and metrics of art.

Artists (edit)

Some of the main Dada artists are:

  • Man Ray : He was one of the most important Dada photographers in the United States in the first decade of the 20th century.
  • Max Ernst  : considered a fundamental member of the movement, self-taught, artist, philosopher and also studied psychiatry. It developed within Expressionism and depicted fantastic beings in Renaissance settings.
  • Marcel Duchamp  : He was a pioneer in the field of sculpture, kinetic art and ready-made art. He is considered one of the most influential artists in the 20th century. He was an Impressionist, Fauvist and Cubist who found in Dada the freedom of expression that he sought so much.

Dada works

Among the most important works of Dadaism we can mention the following:

  • Marcel Duchamp – ” Fountain ” (1917)
  • Hannah Höch – ” Flight ” (1931)
  • Marcel Duchamp – « LHOOQ » (1919)
  • Florine Stettheimer – ” Cathedrals of Broadway ” (1929)
  • Hannah Höch – ” Around a Reed Mouth ” (1967)

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