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Dadaism as an Artistic Movement: Elements, Ideas, Influence Research Paper

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Era of Dada

Dadaism or the Dada movement was a cultural movement which originated in Switzerland. Although it began during the First World War, it reached its peak between 1916 and 1922. (Wood & Frascina, 173) It not only included art theories and manifestos and visual art but also poetry, theatre, literature and graphics. It mainly aimed towards rejecting the present art standards through its anti-art culture. It also had a widespread effect on later avant-garde art movements, including Nouveau réalisme and is the basis of Surrealism. The Dadaists were of the opinion that bourgeois capitalists, colonialists and nationalists caused the First World War and thus, the main goal of the movement was to express their rejection towards their ideologies in an artistic manner which seemed to discard reason and logic by embracing irrationality and chaos, finally leading to mutual destruction. As a result, Dadaism was more an anti-art rather than art movement. (Wood & Frascina, 209)

Idea of Dadaism

Dada Art form was a cultural movement which originated during the 1920s and is characterized by visual artworks which also included non sequitur and sudden appositions creating an element of surprise. This movement developed due to Dadaism and it originated in France but eventually spread to other continents too. Since Dada Art form had its roots in Dadaism its goals were quite similar to that of Dadaism. The leaders of the Dada Art form movement also felt that industrialism and capitalism and man’s megalomania led to the First World War and hence, followed the Dada movement considering it as a moral movement. Both Dadaism and Dada Art form considered art to be an ostentatious luxury and so they wanted to change the atmosphere where art was experienced. (Calo & Stokstad, 26-30)

Major Artists

Most of the artists who led the Dada movement later were also related with the Dada Art form movement which was the artistic revolution that followed Dadaism. Some of them were Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Sophie Taeuber, Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp. Both Dadaism helped to bring about a creative union between many warring countries which was an extraordinary achievement in those times. Although the art works produced during the Dada movement deliberately defied all logic and reason but the movement did not only stress on denial but also on affirmative expression. It aimed at reuniting the unconscious and conscious domains of experience to such a length that both the fantasy and dream worlds are joined in our natural and rational world creating an alternate reality.

The Dada movement and the post-Dada movement differed on their perception of chance in the artistic world. While the Dadaists viewed chance to be a minimally controlled uncertainty, the post-Dadaists viewed chance to be a means of accessing the unconsciousness allowing it to merge with the conscious such that a superior, surreal reality is created. Chance played a major role in both of these art movements helping them develop their individual philosophies. The initial goal of both the Dada and the post-Dadaists movements were far away from being related to art as they were chiefly political and both tried to put an end to everything which was viewed as civilized. But later the aim shifted towards art after which first the Dada movement and later the post-Dadaists movement completely separated from art and its effects though in the essence they were both part of the greater Dada movement. This is a complete irony since today both these movements are acknowledged as major art movements having significant influences on modern cotemporary artists. (Elkins, 145)

Look of the Dada Art form

As an artistic revolution the Dada movement completely changed the outlook of contemporary art form since it introduced a number of new aesthetics, techniques and also styles. As Dadaism initially originated as an anti-war and also anti-art movement most of its early works take the shape of protesting art form. Since most of the artists of the Dada movement had the opinion that since European art form was corrupted by the bourgeois, it was up to them to purify it. They started to mock European art works and their own artwork was created with the goal of inspiring a reaction. However, the Dada movement did not last long enough and was almost completely over by 1922. But it left a long lasting heritage without which Surrealism and other contemporary art revolutions would never have taken place. (Calo & Stokstad, 228)

The artists who followed Dada art forms did not have any special significance rather they considered themselves to be mere vessels to help in the emergence of art. This creative movement relied on chance for relaying the unconscious expression so that impersonal and random forces are allowed to drive the movement. Following in the footsteps of the Dada artists the art forms were often found to create photomontage art forms which would shock the audiences, sometimes angering them, so that they were forced to reason and question the position art had reached in their society. Since the major goal of Dada was to combine unreality and obscurity, the various rights of the human kind was declared by liberating the unconscious. The art that emerged due to this goal challenged the restrictions placed both on perception and depiction. (Sylvester, 55-56)

Works Cited

Calo, Carole G. & Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. Dublin: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Elkins, James. Why Art Cannot Be Taught: A Handbook For Art Students. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Sylvester, David. About modern art. Edition: 2. London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Wood, Paul & Frascina, F. Modernism in dispute: art since the Forties. London: Yale University Press, 1993.

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