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The Golden Age of Russian Impressionism





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circa (1916-1923)


   Dadaism is an art movement that was most active from 1916-1923, which denounced traditional art and culture. It originated in Zurich, and spread to all of Europe and the United States. Dada was a non-movement established by a circle of artists and poets such as Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Richard Huelsenbeck, who were angry at the capitalist society that caused World War I. They decided to make non-art as a way of protesting everything that represented the bourgeois culture that was dominant post-war. They wanted nothing to do with the direction society was taking therefore they rejected all traditions including artistic traditions. It was known as anti-art that was anti-society, anti-culture, and anti-education.  They set out to eliminate all reason, logic, conformity, and form in their non-art by embracing chaos, irrationality, and absurdity.


“We, who are non-artists, will create non-art - since art (and everything else in the world) has no meaning, anyway.”


   The birthplace of the term Dada was in Hugo Ball’s Zurich nightclub called Cabaret Voltaire, where a group of artists and poets gathered to discuss their mutual disgust with a supposedly civilized society that could allow to exist a war that brought such destruction and dehumanization. From there on they met regularly, writing manifestos and spreading the non-ideas of Dadaism throughout Europe. The term Dada, though speculated to possess various meanings such as “yeah, yeah” and “hobby horse”, is thought to be just a nonsensical word picked for its lack of meaning. It means nothing, just as art means nothing. The only rule for Dadaism is don’t follow any known rules. The Dadaist often used abstraction, expressionism, cubism, futurism, collage, photomontage, and ready-made objects in their art. The movement is said to have produced surrealism and is sometimes seen as early developments of modernism.


 Hugo Ball was one of the leading Dada Artist with his establishing work the “Dada Manifesto,” which was meant to offend and confuse.  He also wrote for many journals spreading his thoughts on a deteriorating morality in culture. Tristan Tzara had a more nihilistic approach to Dadaism; he was a poet and performance artist. Marcel Duchamp created one of the Dada’s most legendary works, “Fountain.” This piece known in the art world as a technique called ready made, which means found object, was an actual urinal, signed by the name Richard Mutt, 1917.  He submitted the piece to the Society of Independent Artists to be placed in their 1917 exhibition, which had been advertised for its acceptance of all art and the promise that whatever submitted would be displayed. However after much debate and even with Duchamp being on the board, “Fountain” was placed out of view at the show. Alfred Stieglitz, the owner of Studio 291, which often displayed work of the Dada, proclaimed “Whether Mr. Mutt made the fountain with his own hands or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.” This explained to the upset public the rationale behind Duchamp’s at the time, outrageous art. “Object” by Meret Oppenheim, much like “Fountain” questions the purpose and functionality of art. “Object” is a teacup, saucer, and spoon covered completely in fur eliminating all chance of everyday use. This absurdity and debate of validity of art completely embodied the ideas behind Dadaism.


see also:


Marcel Duchamp - He helped bring Dadaism to the United States and created much controversy over his ready-made urinal piece, “Fountain.”






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