Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Da-Da, Da-Da, Da-Da

When the times reach a point where people begin to question the wisdom of their leaders, it is art that often mirrors the populace. Such a time occurred during WWI and continued for seven years (1916-1923). It was known as the "Dada" anti-art movement.

Dada was a French word for a hobby horse but the word had no meaning in other European languages. Since it didn't make sense, it was the perfect word for a movement that wanted to break with tradition and the rules of art. The break was the way that artists expressed their anger at WWI and the insanity of authority.

The artists of the movement created shock art in the words they chose and the everyday items that they referred to as "art." The viewers' shock and anger were the two responses the Dadaists enjoyed most of all. The point was to provoke and outrage critics and viewers as to the outmoded art traditions and the absurdities of life.

Marcel Duchamp, who was one of the best-known of the Dadaist, painted a mustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa. He also titled a urinal "Fountain" and hung it on a wall.

Some of the other artists who were connected with this anti-art movement included: Man Ray, Jean Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Hoch, Beatrice Wood, and Max Ernst. All connected to the movement created works that were not just shocking but also humorous, whimsical, and nonsensical.

Interestingly, what seemed shocking and outrageous then is now part of the art scene. Assemblages of recycled materials, collages, and photo montages are all widely accepted.

Can you recall seeing art that fit the description of Dada?


  1. Interesting that many present day art forms really were started over a century ago. GJ

  2. Very crazy! Kelli

  3. You will never believe this but in College in one of my English classes we
    were told to write on something we knew nothing about and I picked DaDaism
    so that is the only art I know anything about. ml

  4. I saw an exhibit of Dadaists some time ago and I really like it. DP