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Anti-War Movement DADA Vs. Propaganda Posters of WWI Essay

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Updated: Apr 30th, 2022

The World War I is one of the most significant event in history both on the basis of the detrimental effects that it had brought to the society and the essential events that happened in relation to the events that transpired during that period. One of the noteworthy effects of the said war is the establishment of the anti-war movement DADA. Although, it can be considered that the WWI caused negative reinforcement to the said organization, the style that originated from the said organization can be considered notable.

The anti-war movement DADA and its objectives against the propaganda posters of the WWI is the main issue targeted by the research conducted. It can be viewed that DADA and the beliefs of the said organization is at one side while the participants of the WWI occupy the opposing side.

Due to the accepted notion that the WWI is an influential and significant event marking the history of human civilization, there are different issues that can be considered pertinent to the study. These issues include the causes of the war and the kind of society during and after the war.

In relation to the causes of the WWI, these can considered as pertinent specifically on the basis that the reasons can be related to the type of society that is present during the said era. The events that transpired during the war was caused by different reasons such as arms race, distrust and mobilization, militarism and autocracy, balance of power, economic imperialism, trade barriers and ethnic and political rivalries (Bloch and Soames, 1935).

The said reasons can be considered as the overview of the events in the WWI. Primarily included in the initial event are the Austro-Serbian antagonism prior to 1914 and the Sarajevo outrage. Basically, the other events that occurred are related to the participating countries such as Germany, specifically when recommendation for immediate war was given. In addition, when Germany decided for immediate war as well as Austria, other adjacent nation took sides. The war then can be attributed to the fact that the nations that are involved wanted changes with the society. Changes are perceived important and different from the world after the Napoleon reign (Bloch and Soames, 1935).

When it comes to the generalization and view of the WWI, it can be perceived and attributed that the said war is an integration of different complicated factors emanating from the various aspects of the society including the political, social and economic facets. This can be considered as the main reasons for the changes in the outlook of the population. These changes can both be considered as both advantageous and disadvantageous. The advantages can be attributed to the fact that new outlook and views were established. On the other hand, the disadvantages can be related to the obvious aftermath of wars which are the disruption of the normal society, the traumatic effects and the casualties.

In the determination of the state of the society prior to World War I, there are different notions that surfaced relating to the causes of the said war. Basically one of the reasons for the WWI is the need for reform and change. This can be attributed to the fact that the people are not particularly contented to the conditions of the country. This can be attributed to the social, political, and economic situations (Murphy, 1979).

The Establishment of DADA

The anti-war movement DADA can be considered as one of the many effects of the World War I. It is a cultural oriented group that originated in Zürich, Switzerland which is classified as a country that does not take sides in the said war. It was considered as an organization that is aimed for the cultivation of cultural, graphic and artistic prowess. Aside from that literature and poetry and even the theater is included in the form of expression practiced and enhanced by the said organization.

What is significant though about DADA is the reason behind the establishment. Though the organization superficially aimed to be able to target the artistic capabilities of people and unite them, the said organization has a deeper agenda for the setting up. The aim to promote the artistic expression activities such as public functions and gatherings can be observed. The said organization though became the focus of attention due to the vision and subject areas explored. The main themes of the work done by the members of the DADA movement revolved on the issue related to arts, politics and culture (Hopkins, 2004)

The said main issue that can be observed is the expressed distaste for the waging of war as well as other problems in the society. Aside from the contradictions that the group expressed, the unconventional art was also explored. It can be considered that the type of art that emerged can be related to its contemporary expression which is surrealism.

Basically when it comes to arts, the WWI resulted to the disruption of the traditional beliefs of the people that resulted into the establishment of the different schools of arts that divert from the conventional art styles. These groups include a few examples such as cubism and futurism that can e recognized due to that fact that the styles that they used are eccentric (Hopkins, 2004).

Due to the rebellious style and technique of the DADA it lead to the development of movements that are also defiant of the common styles and techniques such as Avant-garde and Downtown music movements, Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, Pop Art and Fluxus which are of different field and areas (Hopkins, 2004).

The Definition of DADA Style

The style of DADA movement can be considered as the one that originated the development of the abstract art. It is also known as the main force that caused the development of modern art. This can be related to the fact that in the study of the evolution of art, the development of the DADA style can be considered as both disturbing and significant. Disturbing in the way that it divert from the conventional way of art, defying laws of proportion and colors and even other laws in relation to the said art (Read, 1959).

When it comes to the development of art it can be considered as adopting the laws of the predecessor while developing its own style. The style of the ancestor lessen and the own distinct identity comes out causing the growth of a new form of art. This can be the main reason for the development of the DADA style. In its quest for the rebellion against conventional ways, the resulting form of art became one of the most important developments towards modern art (Read, 1959).

The development of the Dada style can then be considered as a rebellion of artistic prowess that led to a rise of the modern form of art. Basically two sides were produced, the art and the anti-art. The art side can be considered as the conventional group that followed the strict rules in expression of art. On the other hand the anti-art devoted the expression of the rebellious art that does not follow rules.

In terms of the technique, it is in fact considered as an abomination for practitioners of the Dada and Surrealism to practice conventional techniques. The key word for their expression is free play (Hopkins, 2004).

Work of Arts

The expression of the styles of work of Dada and conventional artists of the period can be analyzed through the determination of the artists hat belong to such groups.

  • The Dada Artists

One of the known Dada artists is Louis Aragon. He is a known to be a member of the communist party and the Académie Goncourt. Also, he is an active participant as a poet and novelist. From being a Dada, he later on became a Surrealist. His noted works include articles in the underground press Les Éditions de Minuit and poem such as Strophes pour se souvenir (Bohn, 1998).

The works of Aragon can be considered rebellious and anti-war basically since he expressed his views through the underground press while working for the left-wing media. In addition the poem he made was targeted to give honor to the people that joined the resistance.

Another renowned member of the Dada movement is Max Ernst who is both a painter and a poet. Together with Arp and Baargeld established the Cologne dada group and made the Fatagaga collages, which means “Fabrication de tableaux garantis gazométriques” or “Manufacture of guaranteed gasometric pictures”. This is considered as one of the significant work of the group. The dada exhibitions that he organized along with other members created antagonism from the authorities on the basis anti-moral views. He is also an active publicist of the dada group. In the development of the surrealist movement, he is one of the founding member and an active practitioner (Lieberman, 1961).

Hugo Ball is one of the most significant characters in the dada movement. He is the co-founder along with active participants such as Johannes R. Becher, Georg Heym, Richard Huelsenbeck, Klabund among others. During the war he established the “Cabaret Voltaire” in the Spiegelgasse in Zürich with the underlying mission to remind the people of the need for an “independent mind” even during the war. The main principles of the Dada movement emanated from his queries regarding the true sense of human society’s norms and values when war is considered an acceptable act. He believed that waging war is against all types of known values. This resulted to his anti-war and thus anti-norm practices. He was involved with different forms of expressions that became his way of expressing all his doubts to the norms of the society. His noted work “Die Flucht aus der Zeit” (“Flight out of Time”) is the documentation of the Dada movement in Zürich (Bell, 2006).

These are only some of the many members and practitioners of the Dada anti-war beliefs. The practitioners of the said group extended through different forms of expression such as literature and writing, journalism and visual arts which is considered as the most widely known.

  • Conventional Artists

The artists that are not included in the Dada movement can be considered as the conventional ones. One of these is Claude Monet which is one of the known figures in visual arts and painting. He is the father of impressionism which at one point can be considered as a development from the conventional method. Although this is the case, he did not fully practice the anti-war beliefs. Some of his impressionist works include Rue Montorgueil which depicts the festival in Paris and the Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant) which was made during the Franco-Prussian War (Troy, 1991).

Basically, it can be considered that he is a conventional artist on the basis of the subjects he chose. Compared to the members of the Dada movement, main subjects include the issues against the war and the conventional norms and beliefs.

DADA vs. the Propaganda Posters of WWI

Based on the research that had been conducted, it can be perceived that although Dada can be considered as a non-conforming group, it can be recognized to have an important contribution to the society specifically in relation to the development of the modern art.

The conflict between the Dada movement and the propaganda posters during the World War I can be attributed to the objectives in the perpetration of the said works. The main conflicting factor between the opposing sides is the affinity for war.

The propaganda posters during the war were aimed to promote patriotism and the thought that the most important resolution to international differences is to wage war. On the other hand, the Dada movement is against the war and the thought that the society openly accepts the war and sees it as the resolution to the problems of the society (Latham, 2004; Tashjian, 1996).

Basically, the Dada movement became rebellious of the whole values and norms of the society, thus, targeting the social, economic and political aspects due to the fact that it is believed that the whole society wants war. They became the minority in the issue based on the fact that the government and leaders decided to wage war. For that matter, it is considered as a consensus of the society. This is the view that cannot be accepted by the Dada movement (Latham, 2004; Tashjian, 1996).

Based on the concepts and notions that were gathered, then, the Dada movement can be considered as a rebellious movement that resulted into an advantageous development in the society specifically in the world of arts.


  1. Bell, Fraser. “Art Is Dead to Dada.” Queen’s Quarterly 113, 2006.
  2. Bloch, Camille and Soames, Jane. The Causes of the World War: An Historical Summary. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1935.
  3. Bohn, Willard. “Louis Aragon and the Critical Muse.” The Romanic Review 89, 1998.
  4. Hopkins, David. Dada and Surrealism. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  5. Latham, James. “Technology and “Reel Patriotism” in American Film Advertising of the World War I Era.” West Virginia University Philological Papers 51, 2004.
  6. Lieberman, William S. Max Ernst. Museum of Modern Art, 1961.
  7. Murphy, Paul L. World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979.
  8. Read, Herbert. A Concise History of Modern Painting. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1959.
  9. Rugh, Thomas F. “Emmy Hennings and the Emergence of Zurich Dada.” Woman’s Art Journal 2.1 (1981): 1-6.
  10. Tashjian, Dickran. “Art, World War II and the Home Front.” American Literary History 8, 1996.
  11. Troy, Nancy J. “Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914-1925 by Kenneth E. Silver. The Art Bulletin 73.1 (1991): 156-158.
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