Dadaism, or Dada, is an avant-garde movement in literature, painting, theater, and cinema. According to Elger (2016), it was created during World War I in neutral Switzerland, in Zurich, and existed from 1916 to 1923. In the 1920s, French Dadaism merged with surrealism, and in Germany with expressionism (Richter, 2016). Researched believe that post-modernism originates from Dada (Elger, 2016). The founder of the movement, the poet Tristan Tzara, discovered the word “Dada” in the dictionary.
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In 1918, he wrote a manifesto and tried to describe the etymology of this word. In one of the African languages, it means ‘the tail of a sacred cow,’ and in some areas of Italy, it is another word for ‘mother’ (Tzara, 2016). This could also be a reproduction of incomprehensible children’s speech. In any case, it is something completely meaningless, which has become the most suitable name for the whole artistic movement.
Dadaism arose as a reaction to the aftermath of World War I. Its cruelty, according to Dadaists, emphasized the pointlessness of existence (Elger, 2016). Rationalism and logic were declared as some of the main culprits of devastating wars and conflicts. The main idea of Dadaism was the consistent destruction of any form of aesthetics. The Dadaists proclaimed that they are nothing, nothing, nothing, and they will achieve nothing, nothing, nothing (Baas, 2019). The main principles of Dada were irrationality, the rejection of recognized canons and standards in art, cynicism, and disappointment. It is believed that Dadaism was the forerunner of surrealism, which largely determined its ideology and methods.
Marcel Duchamp was at the forefront of Dada and surrealism. He actively participated in the actions of the Dada group, as well as in the creation of several movies, for example, in the absurd film of René Claire “Entr’acte.” Another thing that made him popular is the use of a new “ready-made” method of conceptual art (Baas, 2019). Duchamp presented to the public household objects, for example, a bottle dryer or urinal.
In XX century, experiments of Marcel Duchamp caused significant changes in the understanding of art by artists and spectators. Modern critics and scientist assume that he is one of the most notable and bright examples of modernists. He keeps playing a prominent role in the aesthetics of post-modernism years after death. In his works of art, the most important thing was the perception, whereas usually artists paid more attention to the creation process. At the same time, researchers state that the things created by Duchamp symbolized Dada and surrealism in particular (Baas, 2019). On the one hand, Duchamp used the capabilities of language to put more meaningful ideas in his works, and on the other hand, everything he created was close to realism.
These “isms” are often considered as parts of the idea art. This classification is based on the fact that the artists of these movements invest their personal ideas in their works. Thanks to this, they express themselves and allow viewers to think about specific topics, sometimes very narrow, but extremely important for them. In this way, they translate their perception of reality into life and somehow change the world. Thus, “Dada” and “Duchampism” are unusual examples of art, and not all accept them. However, they undoubtedly resonate with the audience and give people a new, unique view of the world.
Baas, J. (2019). Marcel Duchamp and the art of life. The MIT Press.
Elger, D. (2016). Dadaism. Taschen.
Richter, H. (2016). Dada: art and anti-art. Thames & Hudson.
Tzara, T. (2016). On feeble love and bitter love: Dada manifesto. Molotov Editions.