Alexander`s design

What is Dadaism?

The style in general, its history and characteristics.

Dadaism is an artistic movement in modern art that started around World War I. It existed from 1916 to 1924. It began in Zürich, Switzerland and spread to other cities. To Berlin, Köln, Hannover, Paris and New York. Its purpose was to ridicule the meaninglessness of the modern world with war and nationalism. The name itself should show that the art was designed to oppose conventional aesthetic and cultural values. The word “Dada” means “rocking horse” (in French), and refers to baby-talk and children´s first words such as “Mama”, “Pappa”, “Da-da-da” etc.

The artists wanted to liberate from traditional ideas and definitions by using non-figurative means to create collages and poems consisting of nonsense words, and they were experimenting by taking readymade objects of everyday use out of their intended functional space and elevating them to “art”. A special and well known example is “Fountain”, 1917, by Marcel Duchamp. He creates a urinal as a fountain.

Dadaism was a Non-Art-Movement. The Dadaists used absurdity against the ruling elite, whom they saw as contributing to the war. They worked in collage, photomontage and found-object constructions and rejected traditional concepts of beauty. Dada-art included music, literature, sculpture and puppetry. All intended to provoke and offend the artistic and political elite. The characteristics of Dada-art: You get a feeling and understanding of Dada-art through these words that characterizes the style: Anti-art, travesty, nonsense, absurdity, ready-made’s, incongruently, graphic design, typography, collage, photomontage, visual poetry and sound poetry.


Artists representing the style.

Dada artists are hard to classify in a genre, because many of them did many things. Music, literature, sculpture, puppetry, photography, body art and performance art. They worked with humor, were taking creative chances, they were experimenting and investigating.

Some Dada-artists will be presented here: Marcel Duchamp, 1887 – 1968, worked with paintings, sculptures, films, ready-made’s and performance. Jean Arp, 1886 – 1966, explored the art of collage. Hugo Ball, 1886 – 1947, worked with Dada poems with visual poetry or sound poetry. He performed the poem “Karawane” dressed in a suit of sheets of paper of shining blue carton. Emmy Henning’s, 1885 – 1948, was a poet and a cabaret performer. Tristan Tzara, 1896 – 1963, was a poet, painter and performance artist. Marcel Janco, 1895 – 1984, was a visual artist, architect, art theorist and a mask designer. Sophie Tauber, 1889 – 1943, was a dancer, choreographer, furniture and textile designer. Francis Picabia, 1879 – 1952, was an author, painter and a lithographic artist. Man Ray, 1890 – 1976, was a photographer and a stage manager. He toyed with the arts of photography. Erwin Blumenfeld, 1897 – 1969, working with photography and collage.