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Dada Movement

1916-1924 Europe WWI Protest

Dada Movement - A Stan Klos Website

By Neal McLaughlin

War is a humbling experience to every country, providence and individual unlucky enough to be caught in its mighty talons. From the butchered fields of France to the hot sands of the Middle East, war is hell. Hell, not only to those who must face the horrors of the battlefields, but also a hell to all of us who must sit at home and endure the insecurity that follows the onset of war.

Individuals endure, adjust, adapt and try to live their lives while the unrest plays out on the lands so many miles away. Some people cope by keeping personal journals detailing their deep felt emotions, others join support groups to help them understand their fears and uncertainties.

While the communities help to stage protests and newsletters, professionals in the literature field use the power of words to write stories and poetry that reflects their personal views of the world's involvement in these military conflicts. Just as the poet uses the written word, painters and sculptures will speak loudly through the use of their favorite mediums.

Each and every conflict in this vast world of ours has to some degree affected the current art movements through which these artisans, who vehemently disapprove of our involvement, will paint, sculpt or write in many unique and personal styles.

Some styles and techniques are readily accepted based on their simplicity of the subject matter and the ability for their viewers to quickly understand the message conveyed, while others are not so warmly received, especially if there is some confusion of the style.

Perhaps the strangest movement to ever be born out of the protest to war and the changes that it brings was the Dada (day-day) Movement. Launched in Zurich in 1916, artists of the Dada rebellion, so repulsed by World War I and the changes in the ethical and moral values that had resulted, set out to counter the intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society through methods that have been deemed as anti-rationalism.

It is purported that the name "Dada" was actually selected by chance when one of the founding poets inserted a knife into a page of the dictionary that bore this word. Dada was then kept because of its naive, childish and nonsensical connotation that means " Hobbyhorse" in French and "Yes-Yes" in Slavic.

This zany sounding word appears to have been an appropriate name considering the unconventional forms and eccentric methods used to produce the art and literature that reflected a cynical attitude towards social values while at the same time being irrational, absurd and often cryptic.

Although started in Sweden, which offered a haven to those artists wishing to both avoid the war as well as being able to freely express themselves, Dada would quickly spread to independent groups in New York, Berlin and Paris.

Poets Hugo Ball (1886-1927), Emmy Hennings (1885-1948) and painter Hans Arp (1887-1966) were responsible for maintaining the Zurich movement while Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Francis Picabia (1879-1953) and Marius de Zayas (1880-1961) adopted the "unorthodox" techniques in the New York group of Dadaists.

Germany, was the home to many groups of practicing Dadaists. The leader of one such group, Richard Huelsenbeck (1892-1974) and his colleagues John Heartfield (1891-1968) and Raoul Hausman (1886-1971), as well as Hannah Hoch (1898-1978) and George Grosz (1893-1959), occupied Berlin.

As the artist were concentrating on demonstrating what has been considered absurd, yet at time, playful works of art, the literary scene was busy publishing poems that were consider to be a "meaningless, random -combination of words that made little sense" and were then read in a public forum.

The most famous and perhaps the most amusing work of art generated during this movement is Marcel Duchamp's portrayal of the Mona Lisa sporting a moustache and goatee.

By late 1923, early 1924, Dadaism, which had apparently reached its apex, began to evolve into Surrealism, in itself was much more than an art movement and it helped to force home Dada's seditious attack on normal and urbane standards.

As the Surrealism movement gathered momentum and popularity, many of the Dadaists openly accepted the newly formed ideas and principles of the new school and had switched to this faction as a more modern method in which to illustrate their personal opinions and views.

Although it may appear that art movements come and go as the wind, which many have done, it is important to remember that regardless of their tenure, these movements were speaking the feelings of all of the world's peoples. Through peaceful, artistic demonstrations, these artists were speaking loud and clear how the population felt in regards to a certain event.

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