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Definition: Dada from Philip's Encyclopedia

(Dadaism) Movement in literature and the visual arts, started in Zürich (1915). Contributors included Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Man Ray. The group, repelled by war and bored with cubism, promulgated complete nihilism, espoused satire and ridiculed civilization. Dadaists participated in deliberately irreverent art events designed to shock a complacent public. They stressed the absurd, and the importance of the unconcious. In the early 1920s, conflicts of interest led to the demise of Dadaism. See also surrealism


Summary Article: Dada
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(dä'dä) or Dadaism (dä'däĭzӘm), 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 “R. Mutt.” 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 Short, R. , Dada and Surrealism (1980);.
  • Foster, S. C. , ed., Dada-Dimensions (1985);.
  • Richter, H. , Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1985);.
  • Motherwell, R. , ed., The Dada Painters and Poets (1951, 2d ed. 1989);.
  • Codrescu, A. , The Posthuman Dada Guide (2009);.
  • Rasula, J. , Destruction Was My Beatrice (2015).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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