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Dada

Dada

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This lesson will explore Dada.

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Tutorial
In the early 1900s there a theme in art that was very much anti-war began to gain popularity. Artists used various types of art to create shocking and provocative material in order to express their opinions. This type of art was called Dada. This lesson will cover:
  1. Period of Time and Location: Dada
  2. Dada
    1. Karawane
    2. Collage Arranged According to the Laws of Chance
    3. Cut with the Dada Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany
    4. Fountain

Dada began in Zurich, Switzerland, which was a neutral country during World War I, among a group of artists and poets who were living there in order to protest the war and/or avoid being drafted.


1. Period of Time and Location: Dada

The artwork in this lesson is from the years of 1917 and 1919 in Zurich, Switzerland. Switzerland is where the Dada movement developed or began in 1916.

Below is a timeline highlighting the period of time covered:


2. Dada

One of the interesting things about Dada is that it was not so much an artistic style, as it was an artistic philosophy. There was an overarching theme that was very much anti-war in this form of artwork. Artists used collage, assemblage art, photomontage, and readymade to create shocking and provocative material they grabbed the attention of their audience.

One of the goals of artists that engaged in Dada was to essentially create an awareness of their position. The bourgeoisie was a particular target of Dada artists, who protested against bourgeoisie ideals and felt that they were so apathetic that they would rather fight a war amongst themselves than change their ways.

Dada in a nutshell is anti-war, protests against bourgeoisie ideals, includes nonsensical readings and performances, and creates shocking, absurd material.

Dada
A 20th-century European avant-garde art movement characterized by performances and anti-war themes.
Collage
A French word meaning "a pasting", it is artwork created by using the technique of layering unrelated scraps or fragments into a composition.
Assemblage
The technique of making art using three and two-dimensional objects in one composition.
Readymade
To assemble unaltered found objects into a composition.
Photomontage
A technique used to create a composite photograph by cutting and pasting photographs to create on seamless photographic print.


2a. Karawane

It is also important to point out that there were many authors and poets within the Dada movement. In fact, the Dada movement's impetus is often credited to the poet Hugo Ball. After moving to neutral Switzerland, Ball established the cabaret called the Cabaret Voltaire. Many other artists fled to Switzerland in opposition of the war and to avoid being drafted congregated at the Cabaret Voltaire.

Hugo Ball's reading of a poem of his called "Karawane", below, sparked the Dada movement:

File:2594-Screen_Shot_2016-11-19_at_8.59.12_PM.png

It was a performance reading in which he dressed up in a cardboard outfit, complete with lobster-like hands, a witch doctor's hat, and cape. The poem itself was essentially nonsensical babble, which may have inspired the name "Dada," which is "baby talk" in German. Dada questioned the idea of art itself in response to the reality of the war and the moral and ethical questions it raised.


2b. Collage Arranged According to the Laws of Chance

In response to the unimaginable death toll and what was considered the utter waste of human life in the trenches, Dada artists, such as Jean Arp, explored the aesthetic of garbage. This was done with little bits of paper and discarded items using collage and assemblage art.

Arp's Collage Arranged According to the Laws of Chance is an example of this aesthetic exploration:

File:2595-Screen_Shot_2016-11-19_at_8.59.27_PM.png

For artists like Arp, who helped found the Dada movement, randomness was a way of removing the personalization and control over art that had existed up until this time and possibly influenced later artists like Jackson Pollock, who explored similar themes.


2c. Cut with the Dada Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany

Dada eventually spread to Berlin, Germany, where artists like Hannah Hoch, George Grosz, and John Heartfield used photomontage and other techniques to create works of art that function as political satire.

Hannah Hoch is one of the first important feminists to emerge in 20th-century art and one of the pioneers of the photomontage art form.

This next image of Hooch's artwork is an example of political satire:

File:2596-Screen_Shot_2016-11-19_at_8.59.36_PM.png

This piece and also wins the award for the longest title to a work of art we've covered in all of our art history lessons to this point. It's quite long. In this piece, Hoch uses images and text from the press and other sources to create a work of art that critiques the Weimar Republic, which was in charge of Germany at the time and eventually replaced by the fascist regime of the National Socialists, or Nazis. Her imagery depicts masculinized images of women slicing through figures of the Weimar Republic.


2d. Fountain

Marcel Duchamp created one the most controversial examples of modern art with his Fountain piece, an example of readymade art and, of all things, a urinal:

File:2597-Screen_Shot_2016-11-19_at_8.59.48_PM.png

You might be asking yourself, "how is this art"? This is an important question, and it is one that Duchamp was asking himself as he created this piece of artwork, along with the question, "what is the essence of artwork?"

You might have seen Duchamp's work before, and not just in the public restroom. His painting of the Mona Lisa with a mustache has become quite iconic. But it's important to look beyond the obvious and ask yourself, what is he trying to say?

There are many interpretations. Connecting it to the art of the time, it's been suggested that Duchamp was making a commentary on the use of readymade. Or possibly, he was bypassing traditional craft employed by modern artists. He's exploring the threshold that marks the shift between a simple object and art by using an extreme and debased example.

What's funny is that he submitted the work of art to the Society of Independent Arts, quite sure that it would be rejected. If was, of course. It is the first example of conceptual art in which the idea behind the work of art is more important than the aesthetic itself.


Artists in the early 1900s used various types of art to create shocking artwork in order to express their anti-war opinions. In this lesson, you learned about the period of time and location of Dada.

Remember, Dada is a 20th-century European avant-garde art movement. Performances and anti-war themes were what characterized this movement.

You explored examples of Data including:
  • Karawane- A non-sensical performance reading by Hugo Ball
  • Collage Arranged According to the Laws of Chance- Jean Arp's collage of garbage
  • Cut with the Dada Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany- Hannah Hoch's photomontage of political satire
  • Fountain- Marcel Duchamp's example readymade art, a urinal.

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR IAN MCCONNELL.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Dada

    A 20th-century European avant-garde art movement characterized by performances and anti-war themes.

  • Collage

    A French word meaning "a pasting", it is artwork created by using the technique of layering unrelated scraps or fragments into a composition.

  • Assemblage

    The technique of making art using three and two-dimensional objects in one composition.

  • Readymade

    To assemble unaltered found objects into a composition.

  • Photomontage

    A technique used to create a composite photograph by cutting and pasting photographs to create on seamless photographic print.