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Founded in neutral Zurich in 1916 by a group of
refugees fro World War I, the Dada movement got
its name from a nonsense word.
It protested the madness of war. In this first global conflict,
billed as “the war to end all wars,” tens of thousands died in
trenches daily to gain a few scorched yards before being
driven back by counterattacks. Ten million people were
slaughtered or maimed. It’s no wonder Dadaist artists felt they
could no longer trust reason and the establishment. Their
alternative was to overthrow all authority and cultivate

Its main strategy was to denounce and shock. A typical Dada
evening included several poets declaiming nonsense verse
simultaneously in different languages with others yapping like
dogs. Orators hurled insults at the audience, while absurdly
costumed dancers flapped about the stage and a young girl in
communion dress recited obscene poetry.

Dadaists had a more serious purpose than merely to shock.
They hoped to awaken the imagination.
                        Marcel Duchamp
French artist Marcel Duchamp (1881—1968) was one of the most influential
figures in modern art. A prime mover of both Dada and Surrealism, he also
inspired diverse movements from Pop to Conceptualism. Duchamp became a
legend with out actually producing much art. Although his “Nude Descending
a Staircase” (seep. 150) was notorious, Duchamp abandoned painting at the
height of his celebrity. “1 was interested in ideas not merely in visual
products,” he said. “1 wanted to put painting once again at the service of the

For Duchamp, conceiving a work of art was more important than the finished
work. In 1913 he invented a new form of art called “readymades” by mounting
a bicycle wheel on a kitchen stool. His most controversial readymade was a
porcelain urinal he signed R. Mutt. Duchamp defended the unconventional
art, saying, “Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hand made the fountain or not has
no importance. He CHOSE it.... [he] created a new thought for that object.”
Duchamp’s readymades opened the flood gates for art that was purely
imaginary rather than merely interpreting the visual world. He changed the
concept of what constitutes art.
             Part of the Dada

              Dada - An early
             twentieth century art
             movement which
             culture and
             traditional art forms.

Bicycle Wheel, 1913 / 1964
Fountain, 1917
L.H.O.O.Q. (1919)
Raoul Hausmann's The Spirit of Our
         Time, (1921) (fig.3), is an
 This multimedia sculpture looks like
    the remains of a soldier from the
  front; it stimulates the mind as the
 viewer tries to understand what the
 artist is thinking about. For instance
all of the young men lining up, waiting
     to be processed for the war, are
 motivated by number and measure.
      Perhaps Hausmann wanted to
  address the blind allegiance to the
   false morality of the time, and the
 head represents what could happen
  as a result of this allegiance: one's
    individuality comes into question
  through a combination of cynicism
 and automatism when studying this
              Jean Arp (1887-1966)
                                  GAME OF CHANCE. In his work, Arp
                                  (1887—1966) exploited the irrational. He
                                  discovered the principle of random
                                  collage by accident, when he tore up a
                                  drawing and threw the pieces on the
                                  floor. Admiring the haphazard pattern the
                                  scraps formed, Arp began to make
                                  “chance” collages. “We declared that
                                  everything that comes into being or is
                                  made by man is art,” said Arp. He
                                  constantly experimented to evolve new
                                  forms. His characteristic works include
                                  playful, egglike shapes that suggest living
                                  creatures. Arp stated his aim: “To teach
                                  man what he had forgotten: to dream with
Arp, “Mountain, Table, Anchors,   his eyes open.”
Navel” 1925
Arp, “Shirt Front and Fork” 1922

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