By: Kati Binsfeld, Tori Berels Carolyn Scharf
Mona Lisa with a mustache drawn on by Duchamp, 1919
Mona Lisa with a mustache drawn on by Duchamp, 1919
(Mona Lisa with a mustache painted on by Duchamp, 1919)
What is Dadaism?
Dadaism was an unofficial artistic and literary movement that mocked modern society, targeting nationalism and commercialism in general, as well as governmental authority and what Dadaists considered to be pretentiousness in societal groups. The one rule of Dadaism was to "never follow any rules".

What were the goals of Dadaism?
Dadaism was a pacifistic movement with ideas centered around "mocking proper society". It used humor, puns, obscenities and everyday objects to create art, mimicking the concept of art having no real meaning in society anyways. No specific mediums were favored throughout the movement. Dadaism scorned extreme nationalism that stemmed from World War I and commercialistic obsession held by society. The movement, or "anti-movement", as it's been described, also had little respect for authority figures, usually those governmentally involved. DADA was literally so against conventional society that a common saying among members was, "DADA is anti-DADA!". While the art seemed simple and whimsical, the artists involved were very serious about the work. While the baseline of the movement was filled with intent, the overall production of the movement was delightful.
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Bicycle Wheel, Marcel Duchamp 1913

History of Dadaism:
The Dada movement originated in Zurich, Switzerland, a neutral country in the war, in 1916. The term "Dada" came from a French word meaning "hobby horse" and was chosen because the term made little to no sense, as did the war in Europe. Because of the war in Europe, many artists and writers moved to Switzerland because it was a neutral country during WWI. You would think that the artists and writers would be excited and relieved that they had escaped, but this was not the case. Instead they were furious with the modern society and decided to show their protest against the war through art work. They decided to create non-art since art in the society had no meaning anyway to others.

During the war years, Dadaists put their work out through art showcases, readings, and stagings, to display Dadaist ideas to the public, which in general, was against this offensive art movement. The movement also put art forms, such as Cubism, on the center stage, and helped create new ones, such as Surrealism. This came with the help of prominent Dadaist artists, such as Marcel Duchamp.

Eventually, Zurich Dadaism stopped because of turmoil caused by a Dadaist gathering in early 1919. The rest of the movement began to fade away after the end of World War I when the artwork from the movement became "acceptable" to the rest of society.
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Memory, DaliArtists such as Dali rose in Surrealism based off of the Dadaism movement

Public reaction to Dadaism: Dadaism was widespread through out the world during the Great War, hitting Berlin, New York, and Paris, just to name a couple of the larger cities. As expected by Dadaists, the public was shocked and appalled by this display of crudeness in art and gave a generally negative response as a result. Instead of being disappointed with the response, Dadaist artists were actually pleased with the uproar caused by this controversial display of art. Dadaist artists fed on the public reaction, and overall got the reaction they wanted out of the movement.

Dadaism and Duchamp:
Fountain by Duchamp, 1923
Fountain by Duchamp, 1923

Important figures in DADA adored the artwork of a certain French artist residing in New York, who had scandalized the art world by entering his piece, Fountain, in a New York art exhibition in 1917. The piece not appreciated as artwork and mysteriously disappeared from the exhibition it was to take place in, probably due to the fact that the piece was essentially a urinal purchased from a hardware store with the words "R. Mutt, 1917" painted on it. This artist was Marcel Duchamp, who became one of the key artists in the DADA movement, due to his unusual outlook that art could not necessarily be defined. Leaders in Dadaism especially appreciated Duchamp's readymades, because they didn't fit into the traditional category of art, especially in the case of Fountain.

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(The Large Glass or Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, by Duchamp, 1923)

However, Fountain was just the beginning Duchamp's decidedly Dadaist artwork.
The Large Glass or Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, a project that took eight years to finish, entered, (and definitely shocked), the New York art scene in 1923. It's promiscuity through "abstract" means, (considering it's a mechanical piece, rather than a painting blatantly displaying sexuality), became a significant work in the "anti movement," and was therefore well respected by Dadaists. Sexual meanings in the piece also demonstrate Dadaist tendencies in art, considering the fact that it usually used sexual innuendo in some of its pieces.
Lastly, Duchamp started up multiple Dadaist art show casings in the New York area, which also featured Surrealist works, despite that this was not an art medium that Duchamp worked with.

Others Involved:
Johannes Baader
Max Ernst
Jean Crotti
Marcel Janco
Hans Richter
Adya and Otto van Rees

Louis Aragon
Julius Evola
Mina Loy
Walter Serner
Emmy Hennings



3) [[┬žion_id=T023895#skipToContent|┬žion_id=T023895#skipToContent]]
4) Picture of the Mona Lisa: dada.lhooq.lg.jpg
5) Picture of Fountain: dada_newyork_07.jpg
8) Pictures from Bicycle Wheel:
9) Picture from Memory: