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Dadaism/Absurdism: Dadaism


Dada or Dadaism was a form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theater, dance and politics. The movement  began in Zürich, Switzerland. It arose as a reaction to World War I and the nationalism that many thought had led to the war.

Key Ideas of DADA

  • Dada was the first conceptual art movement where the focus of the artists was not on crafting aesthetically pleasing objects but on making works that often upended bourgeois sensibilities and that generated difficult questions about society, the role of the artist, and the purpose of art.

  • So intent were members of Dada on opposing all norms of bourgeois culture that the group was barely in favor of itself: "Dada is anti-Dada," they often cried. The group's founding in the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich was appropriate: the Cabaret was named after the eighteenth century French satirist, Voltaire, whose novella Candide mocked the idiocies of his society. As Hugo Ball, one of the founders of both the Cabaret and Dada wrote, "This is our Candide against the times."

  • Artists like Hans Arp were intent on incorporating chance into the creation of works of art. This went against all norms of traditional art production whereby a work was meticulously planned and completed. The introduction of chance was a way for Dadaists to challenge artistic norms and to question the role of the artist in the artistic process.

  • Dada artists are known for their use of readymade objects - everyday objects that could be bought and presented as art with little manipulation by the artist. The use of the readymade forced questions about artistic creativity and the very definition of art and its purpose in society.


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Key Ideas
Most Important Art
Concepts and Styles
Further Developments


Francis Picabia Francis Picabia

 Francis Picabia Page
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Marcel Duchamp Marcel Duchamp

 Marcel Duchamp Page
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Man Ray Man Ray

 Man Ray Page
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AndrĂ© Breton André Breton

 André Breton Page
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Hans Arp Hans Arp

 Hans Arp Page
Hannah Höch

 Hannah Höch Page
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Artists of the movement

Library Media Specialist

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Nancy Green
Timberlane Regional High School
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Important Places

Books at TRHS