Dada artworks invite misunderstanding, and evoke questions from the viewer.
An anti-art, anti-everything movement, was founded in Switzerland by a group of French and German artists who wanted to divorce themselves from the artistic era they were in. They had a sense of humour, and looked for the ridiculous in works. It had links with Cubism and Expressionism, with Surrealism and Abstraction (re Jackson Pollock). It appeared simultaneously in Europe (Spain and Germany) and New York as a protest movement against World War I, and against the accepted cultural traditions, morals, and values that would permit a war. They were artistically protesting against ideas of beauty and formality, and against galleries and art critics dictating what was acceptable in art, and against art which appeared to be turning its back on reality.
Assemblage – Schwitters – 1920
The world was crazy and mad in 1915 – 16. Current standards had to be returned. The rational world had to be shown rationally. The Cubists and Impressionists did it pictorially; Dada did it mentally – they gave a marvellous freedom, showed that you can have fun with art, that it can be silly. Dada had a purpose, a goal to rethink the role of art and artists in society – to invite misunderstanding, to evoke questions from the viewer. Dadaists tried to review standards held by non-artists, and to tear down the 19th century ideals of art, and replace them with 20th Century ideals. They also wanted to re-admit emotions and expression into art, to permit creative intuition to take precedence over formal theories, allowing the artist to express himself unencumbered by rules – to be highly expressive.
The artistic selection was up to the artist – he could paint what he wanted and how he wanted, with arbitrary colours, distortions, etc. The Dadaists took it a bit too far. Duchamp said “I am an artist. I choose it. Therefore it is art.” Dada is a joke, but allows for the artist to select for himself. Dada also allows for subconscious directions, for chance shapes to create the line – for subconscious development of chance shapes (by dropping a piece of string and noting the shape it makes when it lands) – perception development.
LHOOQ – Duchamp
Dada was famous for its jests (jokes) – like Mona Lisa with a beard and moustache titled LHOOQ. Also Readymades – something exists and using it as a sculpture (bicycle wheel on a stool) makes it art. Corrected Readymades – created chance compositions from shapes in a cloud. They created manifestos. The Dadaists were outrageous and bizarre, responding to any cultural medium. The art of no taste, the art of the con.
Dada was a forerunner of Surrealism and Op Art, and the happenings in the 1960s. It was in painting, sculpture, theatre, music, and literature. It did not reflect good taste, rather a total lack of taste. It was an artistic tantrum, but it had positive effects. It re-established spontaneity and intuition; it re-affirmed expression and imagination together; it drew attention to the silliness of the times, and to the morbidity. It helped to artistically redefine standards in art, and allowed the artists to dictate their own standards. it was artistic freedom to the maximum.
Fountain – R Mutt – 1917
Kurt Schwitters: created collages from trash found in gutters – used artistic selection creating an awareness of shapes, textural interest and design sense in his works. He was never anti-art, always appreciated visual image, and returned to geometric abstraction in his later works.
Marcel Duchamp: was the leader of the movement, and raised provocative questions in art. He was French, and originally a Futurist, who worked tongue-in-cheek to shake up the elitists in the art world. he influenced the Surrealists, who tried to create works of art from the artists’ internal ideas. He gave artistic freedom to the limits, and crossed boundaries of traditions, saying they didn’t exist.
Abstract Composition – Arp
Hans Arp: did works of collage, relief works, and sculpture. He experiments with the laws of chance – he wished to produce visual images over which he had no control. He made use of random composition, including the rejection and selection of its happy accidents. Sculptures evolved from within themselves, as form evolved from form, with the final sculpture from a part of the first.
Max Ernst: was influenced by medieval artists, Bosch and Grunwald, and by his contemporaries, Picasso, Klee and Dali. His works were seen as a bridge between Dada and Surrealism. He was interested in chance – frottage, rubbings, gottage; decalcomania – the point between two surfaces then finding an image in the result. Also he was interested in fantasy.
Cormorants – Ernst – 1920
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Jud House 27/09/2016
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