Dada dä´dä [key]
or Dadaism dä´däĭzəm [key]
, international nihilistic movement among European artists and writers that lasted from 1916 to 1922. Born of the widespread disillusionment engendered by World War I, it originated in Zürich with a 1916 party at the Cabaret Voltaire and the recitation of nonsense poetry by the Romanian Tristan Tzara
, also the author of the Dada Manifesto.
Dada attacked conventional standards of aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation. In Berlin, Dada had political overtones, exemplified by the caricatures of George Grosz
and Otto Dix
. The French movement was more literary in emphasis; it centered around Tzara, André Breton
, Louis Aragon
, Jean Arp
, Marcel Duchamp
, Francis Picabia
, and Man Ray
. The latter three carried the spirit of Dada to New York City. Typical were the elegant collages devised by Arp, Kurt Schwitters
, and Max Ernst
from refuse and scraps of paper, and Duchamp's celebrated Mona Lisa
adorned with a mustache and a goatee as well as his Fountain
(1917), a urinal signed
Dada principles were eventually modified to become the basis of surrealism
in 1924. The literary manifestations of Dada were mostly nonsense poems—meaningless random combinations of words—which were read in public.
See R. Short, Dada and Surrealism (1980); S. C. Foster, ed., Dada-Dimensions (1985); H. Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1985); R. Motherwell, ed., The Dada Painters and Poets (1951, 2d ed. 1989); A. Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide (2009); J. Rasula, Destruction Was My Beatrice (2015).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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