Dada: 100 years of absurdity and radical politics
Our friends at JSTOR Daily remind us that this year marks the centennial of the cacophonous beginnings of the Dada movement in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire.
An anarchic response to the ravages of World War I, the movement is notoriously difficult to pin down. Matthew Wills writes, “Dada combined absurdity and nonsense, radical politics and anti-politics, outrage and outrageousness in the mediums of spoken (more often shouted) word, theatre, collage, photomontage, cut-ups, assemblages, and readymades…”
As you can see from these images, Dada was not a style as much as an attitude. While collage was a recurring method, these three examples show how varied it could be, from the haphazard-looking cover of a Dada publication by the poet Tristan Tzara (courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) to the proto-Surrealism of Max Ernst (from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation) and the Cubist-inspired work of Kurt Schwitters (from the Yale University Art Gallery). And Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s “Dada Heads” remind us that Dadaists were also capable of creating objects of great, if unusual, beauty (from the Museum of Modern Art and Réunion des Musées Nationaux).
Read the full story in JSTOR Daily.